Picture the scene. You’ve raised little Jamie and Chloe from helpless infants to excitable teenagers. You’ve bought a house in the right catchment area. You’ve hung onto your job somehow and paid the mortgage. You’ve tracked down just the right Victorian pine kitchen table to stand in the middle of your dream kitchen extension. The kids have gone off on a suitably ‘right-on’ school trip with the very best teachers, to help underprivileged kids. You’ve seen them off in their new fleece jackets, bought them the latest smart-phones and told them to stay in touch. Sit at that table and open a bottle of Chardonnay; raise a toast to another milestone in your life as a parent!
What could spoil the evening? Your iPhone buzzing news of a text message – that’s what.
‘Mum, mum, there’s jet planes flying over us, there’s tanks outside the window, there’s soldiers pointing guns at us, Mum, a bomb’s gone off. Mum – do something!’
There’s no answer to that, is there?
Turn on the evening news and discover that little Jamie and Chloe, so recently safe and sound in Birmingham, were now slap in the centre of a military coup in Turkey.
Why? The school had booked ‘remarkably good value’ trips to South Africa with a flight change in Ankara, Turkey. A highly qualified teacher for every six of the 42 pupils, all the risk assessments filled out, everyone health and safety checked.
There are many people who have suffered greatly during and following the Turkish coup – but something about the plight of those Birmingham parents, frozen in shock, unable to do a thing to help, their world crashing round their ears, just got to me.
You’ll be glad to hear that all the pupils were unharmed and have now arrived in South Africa to start their stint working at the Rondevlei and Ruigtevlei schools and are now busy bringing the delights of ‘the three-legged race, egg and spoon and wheelbarrow races as well as biscuit decorating, apple bobbing, football, cricket, and bracelet making’ to a small South African township – and visiting Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.
“In Birmingham, we are fortunate to live in a city that is multicultural and our students are growing up in a generation promoting equality, so to hear stories of conditions in a place that was beginning to feel like home in the years just before their birth was entirely thought-provoking.”
Not as ‘thought provoking’ as the journey to get there this year!
Political activism is getting out of hand. The European version used to involve a lot of shouting and chaining yourself to railings, but lately it appears to have turned outwards and bring the death of those who don’t agree with you.
In Russia they still use some old fashioned methods – and I applaud them and commend their latest effort to some of our fringe lunatics.
Pyotr Pavlensky has been down the well trodden artistic route of cutting off part of his ear. It didn’t raise much of a stir – so very Van Gogh. He set fire to the door of the Kremlin, barely a mention in the papers. Then he cracked it.
He stripped off his clothes and nailed his testicles to the cobbles of the Red Square.
I can see this working in Britain. Would I pay more attention to the paranoid mutterings of Seumas Milne if he nailed his testicles to the pavement outside the Guardian offices? Oh absolutely. Naked, mind. No cheating. If Corbyn and Watson joined him I’d even vote Labour.
Boris Johnson has quit his £275,000 Telegraph column – a fee he described as “chicken feed”. Spectacularly well fed chickens, what Ho!
Hopefully to spend more time penning limericks to that Erdoğan character that the EU would like to see ‘in the club’.
I have no problem whatsoever with Johnson as Foreign Secretary – it is about time someone British stopped pussy footing round terrified to offend anyone. Taking the mickey out of foreign leaders? Heaps better than sending exocets their way.
The British media don’t seem to understand that the Turkish military was specifically mandated by Atatürk to act if the country moved away from the secular state he envisaged as the way in which different cultures could live together. I keep reading about ‘senior officers plotting’ to bring about the downfall of a ‘democratic government’. Democratically elected, yes, but to run a secular country.
Our military is there to ‘protect the Crown’. They have sworn allegiance to the Crown, not to a democratically elected government…
Watch how fast the tanks come rolling out of Sandhurst if a ‘democratically elected government’ threatened the Crown – and then re-write your articles about ‘senior officers plotting’. They didn’t plot, they acted; as they were supposed to.
What you are cheering on with your emotive articles about ‘brave citizens’ is a Muslim mob overthrowing the constitution. Are you sure that is what you want to uphold?
Can we give over with the guff about tragic ‘Teddy bears’ lying beside dead children littering the Promenade des Anglais after the terrible events in Nice. French children have many toys, but they are not in the habit of carrying around a bear commemorating an American president. There were children of other nationalities killed that night – but do we know they had a Teddy bear?
Whilst you are about it, cut the guff about the French police ‘allowing’ the deadly truck driver to park up for 9 hours on Bastille Day by ‘fooling them’ saying he ‘was carrying ice-cream’.
No vehicle over 3 tonne is allowed to drive on French roads on a public holiday – unless it is a freezer lorry carrying perishable goods. He may well have told a policeman who stopped him that he was carrying ice-cream – he would have been asked to prove it, and on seeing the empty lorry, would have been told that he couldn’t move one inch forward or backwards until midnight…it’s the law.
The fact that he had hired a freezer lorry told me that this was well thought out in advance – it is the only HGV that could have driven anywhere on Bastille Day.
France is also a determinedly Secular country that didn’t take part in the Iraq war – that factor the British media are fond of blaming for every act of terrorism.
What they have done is refuse to bow to the pressure of making ‘exceptions’ for the Muslim community. If you come to live in France you are expected to bow to French mores, languages and culture.
They are paying a terrible price for retaining their identity and values. As is the army and the judiciary in Turkey.
So we now have ‘a clown’ of a Foreign Secretary who says what he really thinks, and cares not who he offends…?
I feel considerably safer.
Just watching the ‘contents’ of next door’s holiday cottage setting off for the day. They arrived with a high powered speed boat. ‘Water Skiing’ they said.
This morning they asked Mr G ‘which way to the open sea?’ ‘That way’ he pointed. ‘Thanks’ they said, ‘the kids want to water ski in the open, can’t jump and skip in the river.’
They’ve just set off. Three adults, three children and three large Labradors in one small power boat.
At least the dogs were wearing life jackets.
I’ll let you know…..