THE GREAT CONTRAST
Indeed, in terms of both controlling the pandemic and allowing normal life to go on, the TRNC appears to have got the balance right. OK, I accept that the borders of a small country like this, with just two sea ports and one airport, are far easier to control than those of a normally major economic player like the UK. That said, the resultant contrast in the pandemic atmosphere that prevails in the two countries could not be greater. Life here just feels unusual, not at an end. In the UK, proportionate reaction in a crisis seems to have done a heavy-handed bunk.
I particularly noticed it last weekend. All over the UK Remembrance Sunday was cancelled. No wreath-laying, no two minutes’ silence, no last post, no reveille, at least for the usual armies of respectful members of the public who normally voluntarily turn up, at local war memorials all across the country. In most places the law-abiding majority never got near a war memorial and there was nothing happening even if they did.
The lack of any official attempt to ensure some form of limited normality prevailed, especially for the public, was a sad capitulation to the virus, not a victory over it. An all-encompassing fear won the day. Ironic indeed when you consider Remembrance is about honouring those who overcame that fear in the face of the enemy and gave their lives in defence of freedom and democracy.
There wasn’t much of that about in the UK on November 8, 2020, now was there? In terms of Remembrance, an almost total, day-long, “silence” was weirdly enforced. Even singing was banned, including the national anthem (that historic “enforcer” of bans on all things enjoyable, Oliver Cromwell, would have been in his puritanical element).
At the Cenotaph, normally the focal point of national tribute to the fallen, an extremely limited service thankfully did take place, which was surrounded by a cordon of police, ensuring the public, even in limited numbers, never got anywhere near it. That was understandable, to the extent that thousands normally turn up.
The Royal British Legion (RBL) is a responsible, law-abiding organisation, representing all that is good in the national character. Why didn’t the government put their trust in them to do the right thing and encourage Remembrance services to happen, instead of frightening people to death if they did, even on a limited basis?
Government guidelines should have been to ensure Remembrance took place, not to effectively ban it. It is an important day in the national calendar. That is what should have happened from Brighton to Inverness and from Belfast to Kingston upon Hull. It didn’t. Instead the UK got a cowering capitulation.
This wasn’t the situation here in Girne (Kyrenia), thank goodness. The TRNC government, the local authorities, the police and the Kyrenia branch of the RBL, ensured Remembrance took place, despite the virus, although understandably limited in nature when compared to normal. Strict rules on numbers officially attending, in a cordoned-off central area, mask wearing and social distancing were all applied, even for members of the public outside the cordon. Those rules were observed by those attending. The police didn’t restrict the event, they facilitated its logically scaled-down nature. The order of service was exactly as it always is. Quite right too.
If that can be done, right here in the TRNC, 2,000 miles away from the Cenotaph, why couldn’t it happen in countless villages and towns across the United Kingdom? The virus will never be beaten by cowering before it.
Some sense of normality prevailed at the Kyrenia RBL Remembrance Service. Their Chairman, David Horsfall, his officers, committee and helpers, deserve nothing but praise and admiration. Thank goodness the spirit of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain is still alive somewhere. The fact it happens to be 2,000 miles away in the TRNC should fill the British government with shame.
One obvious excuse the UK government will claim, in defence of why it was necessary to effectively ban Remembrance Sunday, is that the UK has just gone into a second “lockdown”. The negative economic effects of the first lockdown are potentially disastrous and their true impact not yet felt, in terms of looming unemployment and the mental health of the nation. They soon will be. Why isn’t somebody in Whitehall asking if those negative economic realities are acceptable as the cost of defeating the virus by means of a second lockdown? Why is nobody balancing the costs against the effects? If UK government doesn’t, I’ll guarantee the inevitable future public inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic, will do just that. As things stand, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of its conclusions.
The truth is, however many people are diagnosed with Covid, the vast majority who die from it are vulnerable already. They often have existing underlying health problems or are simply suffering the natural consequences of old age. At 72 years of age, I may fit all too well into that category. The future always belongs to the young, virus or not. I do not expect government to lock everyone down and bankrupt Britain in the process, just to save the likes of me. I’ll take responsibility for myself, thank you very much. In the meantime, Boris should pray this new vaccine works. That will defeat the virus, lockdowns simply won’t. In the meantime he should stop destroying normal life far more effectively than any virus possibly could. “Lest we forget” eh?
Wrong again, John
PERSONALLY, I always got on well with John Major. He quite simply is a genuinely nice bloke and certainly not as “grey” as TV’s Spitting Image would have had us believe. John thought their habit of having his puppet unsuccessfully chase the last remaining pea around his dinner plate, on a regular basis, was hilarious. That tells us a lot about the man.
When it came to the parliamentary debates on the EU’s Maastricht Treaty I stayed loyal to him, despite my growing euro-scepticism, largely because he was intent on keeping a UK opt-out of the Single Currency (the euro). Thank God he did. He was dead right. Thanks to John, Gordon Brown was eventually able to use it.
By the time of the Brexit referendum, John’s pro-EU stance was on open display, even though, like me, he was out of mainstream politics. His anti-Brexit stance became his dominating, public characteristic. He still refuses to see the benefits that a post-Brexit Britain can seize, especially as its Covid-shattered economy tries to recover. Being free of EU bureaucracy, red tape and enterprise-stifling regulations will be an all-important advantage when compared to our EU competitors (and they know it).
According to John, the UK is a busted flush. It is “no longer a major power” and “never will be again”. Pardon? The UK is the sixth-largest economy in the world. It is the eighth-largest military power with a nuclear capability and a global reach. We are one of only five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Our links with the Commonwealth give us a diplomatic reach no other country can match. This is no busted flush. You are a good man John, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
A DAY IN THIS LIFE
DONALD Trump is acting like a spoilt child, on an epic scale, stamping his feet and having a tantrum, whilst refusing to accept the blindingly obvious. He lost. Any chance of him maintaining some credibility is fast diminishing. Why didn’t he simply concede gracefully, whilst requesting that any eventually proven abnormalities in the US voting system be put right, not to save him, but to avoid such concerns in the future? As for his failure to do so, well, for sheer stupidity, Trump that!
Two more spoilt brats
HARRY and Meghan are reportedly “saddened” that their request to have a wreath laid at the Cenotaph, on their behalf, was turned down by palace officials. I’m not. Their lonely US wreath laying photo shoot was nothing but an attention-seeking sham. They left royal duties, they chose to go to the US. Live with it and stop belly aching!
I SEE FA chairman Greg Clarke has had to resign. His heinous crime? He talked of “high profile coloured footballers” before a parliamentary committee, whilst decrying racist internet trolls. Many say he should have resigned long ago, but over this? I think not. It is “coloured” players who are suffering the trolls. How the hell else was he supposed to identify them? What next? Resignation if you open your mouth?
I’m a celebrity nomination
THE cast of the next “I’m a Celebrity” (really, who are you?) has just been announced (yawn). The show has just missed out on one great guest appearance. I understand Donald Trump is free. . .
AND ANOTHER THING....
The nearly man
MY OLD school pal, singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player Chris (CJ) Smith is currently the leader of blues/funk band “The Wolves”. Earlier he played with the King Ivory Band, appearing “live” on BBC Radio 2’s “Paul Jones Blues Show” amongst a host of other appearances with a variety of soul and blues bands from the 1960s onwards. He had studied music at Ealing Art College, where he met fellow students Tim Staffel and Freddie Bulsara (known to us as “Mercury”) and through Tim, the now legendary Brian May. They formed a band called Smile. Roger Taylor joined on drums. Eventually, as Smile moved away from their blues roots, first Chris then Tim left (as Chris says “not one of my best career moves”). He remains friends with Brian May. After Freddie’s death Chris was interviewed on radio by Ultravox lead singer Midge Ure about his friendship with the great Mr Mercury.
Chris is still writing songs and recording both C J Smith Band and The Wolves albums. As Brian May would agree, he is one of the great undiscovered talents. In music, it’s a common story, but Chris wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Rock on!