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Tuesday, 06 August 2013


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My very best wishes to the long-sufering memsahib.
You look after her or I'll come and huff and puff at you!

"I am not so sure that Harry Hopkins was an out-and-out communist agent acting for the Soviets." Oh, give over, Duffers, of course he was.

It was a Czech Postdoctoral Fellow who explained to me years ago that it was wise to assume that everyone of "progressive Left-wing politics and sympathies" in our universities was a Soviet agent: too many people returning from spells in the western universities were being arrested over conversations they'd had with just such people.

Thank you, Andra, and your fearful warning is noted! The op went well and I am collecting her tomorrow morning. However, I doubt she will be pulling on the No. 9 shirt too soon!

DM, I was trying to be exact in my language - well, it does happen occasionally - by 'agent' I mean someone who is active but under the total control of an enemy foreign power. There is one quote from a high-ranking KGB officer to that effect but then how far would you trust him or his words? I suspect - I cannot know - that Hopkins was more of 'fellow traveller', perhaps 'an agent of influence' rather than a KGB puppet on a string. The current White House is full of similar ideologues but unfortunately for them there is no real Marxist state for them assist.

"by 'agent' I mean someone who is active but under the total control of an enemy foreign power": that's not the way I'd use the word. If someone is an agent for Mercedes he's not totally under their control, but he routinely acts in their interest. That would be my use.

DM, you obviously weren't around the motor trade back in the '80s when MB were known as 'the Gestapo' not least for the fact that they ordered their 'agents' not to sell cars to punters outside their designated sales area. This, of course, kept prices high and lengthened even further the waiting lists. Not all bad, as it happened, because knowing people in various parts of the country I would get them to order new Mercs which I would then sell for 'overs'. The MB 'agents' weren't too happy but somehow I managed to control my tears!

The impression I get, from conversations and skimming the history, is that even if Hopkins was a Soviet puppet, passed The Politburos wish list as direct orders, etc. it would probably have acted to 'tone-down' FDR' desire to destroy the British Empire and transform the US into a socialist paradise.

In my recent travels I met a sweet, impeccably mannered old lady librarian who, should one be so crass as to mention 'that president', literally spit on the ground (Clinton and Obama only elicited a Tssk or a sad shake of the head in comparison).

I should point out that the lady in question was a lifelong member of the NRA, had a personal armory that probably came close to that of an average sized British regiment (and carried an M&P 9mm 'everywhere'), a root cellar stacked with enough home-canned food to feed a town for a month (not to mention, what appeared to be, most of an elk in the freezer), and a photograph of Reagan next to the family bible - so, just about your average American voter (away from the E and W coasts).

Able, I thought at first that you met this librarian in Arkansas, then I remembered they don't have libraries in Arkansas.

Able, you weren't in Alaska by any chance, only she sounds very like the way I imagine 'Gramma' Palin might be!

Dom, this lilly-livered Limey will remain strictly neutral on your comment!


Not Alaska, although intend to visit Fairchild and Anchorage, maybe next time.

The lady in question resembles an actress from a sitcom I remembered watching, 'Northern Exposure' - set in Alaska. Coincidentally, the actress was (the most stunningly beautiful lady ever!) one Janine Turner - who, if memory serves me right, was part of Sarah Palins campaign team (beauty, brains, talent, .... could she 'be' any better?). Now if anyone knows Miss Turners address I can finally get my proposal letter posted (I can only hope she has become short sighted over the years).


Oh please! The contents of the average British Regimental Armoury would only lead to an individual being classed as a hobbyist/beginner in Arkansas (although she was inordinately proud of her Alaskan Copilot in .50 Alaskan which with the felt recoil of a 20 bore managed to punch through two 1" steel plates - designed just in case you meet a plate armour wearing grizzly on a jaunt into the woods).

They do have libraries in Arkansas, how else do you think they keep the outhouses stocked with 'the necessaries'?

Janine Turner - - gorgeous, brainy and Right-wing! Sorry, Able, I think she was meant for me even if I have no idea what an "Alaskan Copilot in .50 Alaskan" is! By the way, I took the trouble to correct a typo in your comment lest you receive a 100x lines from 'DM', you know what a stickler he is!

No! I called dibs, you can't have Sarah, Ann 'and' Janine, that's just greedy (not to mention that Herself may become annoyed) so I'll take over the 'worshiping from afar' if you don't mind.

The Copilot is a modified Marlin 1895 (think lever action like the old cowboy long-guns - John Wayne on steroids - they usually fired pistol calibre cartridges, although bigger were available).‎

The .50 Alaska (thanks for the correction but as a proper name I'm not sure which is right now) was a cartridge invented in the 50's specifically for Grizzly Bears. Compare and contrast:

BD (bullet diameter) BW (bullet weight) MV (velocity) ME (energy)

9x19 Parabellum BD .355" BW 115 gr MV 1300 ft/s ME 420 ft-lbf

.303 British BD .312" BW 174 gr MV 2500 ft/s ME 2408 ft-lbf

7.62 NATO BD .308" BW 147 gr MV 2733 ft/s ME 2437 ft-lbf

.50 Alaska BD .510" BW 450 gr MV 1718 ft/s ME 2950 ft-lbf

Not good to be on the other end wearing less than a MBT (and Oh so cool - in the right circles).

Truly, Able, you are an education! Glad to see the old .303 stands up quite well to the 7.62 and I believe was more accurate over long distance - pity the bloody thing weighed a ton! Anyway, seeing you thus armed - Janine's all yours!

Claim .303 all you want, but we all know you did basic when Brown Bess was still standard issue.

(Again coincidentally, lady librarian had a few black powder firearms [pistols, rifles and smooth-bores] too, apparently it sill has quite a following over there. So you could go over and reminisce).

Ah, yes, the Brown Bess of which it was truly said that you would have difficulty hitting a barn even if you were inside it! Actually, I do remember the .303 from my Air Cadet days but I can't actually remember ever firing it. However, I do still remember the basic drill movements. When I joined up the 7.62 was a relief, weight-wise.

Ah, far be it for me to disagree with my (just) elders but ...

As far as I remember (look I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast) The Lee Enfield (at least in 7.62 L42A1 format) was drummed and beaten into me as supposedly weighing 8.8 lbs sans ammunition, whilst, the admittedly reassuringly potent, reliable and effective L1A1 SLR was (again drummed, beaten and after some hours held at arms length and above the head whilst circumnavigating one airfield or another, at 'the stagger', just because I 'may' have committed some faux pas or other) 9.9 lbs with empty magazine.

Just imagine how having L42A1 replaced by the Accuracy International L96A1 (7.62) at 14.3 lbs felt like, let alone the L118A (.338 Lapua Mag). Oh my aching back, I can barely hump my coffee mug nowadays (I need a bearer for anything else - well that or a trolley).

I could be wrong though (I usually am)

No, I do believe you're right and I'm wrong! Alas, it is my memory playing tricks again because I was about 14 years old when I was taught drill will a Lee Enfield and all that solid woodwork on my poor little skinny arms made me think it was hugely heavy. At 18 years and fit as a flea the rather titchy looking SLR seemed pretty lightweight. Mind you, as a signaller carry a radio I was usually issued with a Sterling (6lbs) or better still, a Browning 9mm pistol. However, I do remember that once my superb skiving skills let me down and I was forced to take part in some daft bloody competition in which different units marched 10 miles as fast as they could run, walk, crawl or stagger and then fire off a magazine at some targets. Guess who drew the Bren gun?

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