Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Month: November, 2013

All Tomorrow’s Yesterdays


All our tomorrow’s yesterdays

Must at some time have been today.

And all our todays that were now

Must by now have passed away.

But the todays that are still tomorrows

Cannot yet be yesterday,

For the present never stops moving,

Both forwards and backwards each day.

So all we can do when contemplating

Time, and the part it might play,

In measuring the span of our lives

Is to change the unchanging changes today.

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Proving Goldbach’s Conjecture


The years 1715 to 1792 are known in many countries as either “The age of enlightenment” or “The age of reason”. This is for the very simple reason that in the previous 100 years the Western civilised world had undergone a series of momentous scientific and geographical discoveries leaving the average intellectual no longer obliged to turn to the Church to say whether or not their ideas or theories were in line with Christian teaching because the myriad of Christian denominations which had sprung up since the reformation, approximately between 1511 and 1567, meant that the authority once automatically vested in the church in all matters of scientific and sociological morals, ethics and facts was considered no more likely to be right than the theories of political philosophers, mathematicians or discoverers.

So a whole century of changes in every walk of life culminated towards its closing years in the French revolution and abolition of hereditary privilege in France, financial and trading freedom in Italy, Spain and England and writers of all types in every country no longer felt obliged to seek ecclesiastical permission to be published. Also, the establishment of independence in North America and the founding of penal colonies in Australasia were the foundation stones of the English speaking world as we know it today.

This short proof concerns one example of how freedom of intellectual enquiry gave rise to perhaps the most intriguing puzzle, problem and obvious but unprovable hypothesis in the history of maths. Christian Goldbach, a keen amateur mathematician – yes in those heady days of original thought even mathematicians had original ideas, not allowed in schools nowadays – wrote to a friend of his in Switzerland, Leonhardt Euler, one of the most distinguished mathematicians in the history of the discipline. Christian suggested to his friend that all even numbers were the sum of two prime numbers. He allowed for only one odd number to be the sum of two primes, ie 3, as it was 1 + 2 . But He could find no even number that was not the sum of two primes.

The only problem was that,while it seemed obviously true, and nobody could, or at least has as yet, disproved it, he could not formulate an acceptable proof of his conjecture within the accepted rules of traditional mathematics. A large prize was deposited in a Swiss bank which was to be awarded to the first person to come up with such a proof. Now this was some 270 years ago, but still nobody has managed to formulate an acceptable proof. The prize money is still earning compound interest at 5 % and by now would make the winner one of the richest academics in the world. The most powerful computers in today’s world cannot disprove Goldbach so why can the conjecture not be proven?

Well, personally, I have always believed it is simply because it is too obvious. Can one actually prove, for instance, that 1 plus 1 equals 2. Not by any other method than saying that 1 is what we call a single unit of something, 2 is 2 such units and so on. But this is no more than giving a definition of, or naming the noun which corresponds to, a mathematical symbol or tool. Well, surely, that is all that Goldbach’s conjecture does. He simply SAID IT THE WRONG WAY ROUND. What he should have said is “an even number is any number that is the sum of two primes.”( 2 ,of course is sum of 1 +1). That is a perfectly valid and true definition of an even number. There are others, such as “an even number is any number which can be divided exactly by any other number higher than one.” But the important thing about my definition of an even number is that by its linguistic composition it obviates the necessity to take Goldbach’s conjecture any further, in order to prove it, than to state what an even number is. Doing this proves both the conjecture and satisfies the mathematical logic inherent in proving all theorems; ie using nothing more than the numerical value and meaning of a number’s name to make a mathematical point.

QED.

vietnam photo ton001

It’s said you never see the shot that gets you But you do It haunts your dreams and memories for years Reduces you to tears My scar embarrasses me when making love to Anne Hiding her revulsion if she can I see that sniper laughing at me, now crippled and lame I don’t even know […]

The Two Longest 30 Seconds in History.


On Saturday I settled down to watch England play New Zealand in the semi-final of the world rugby league cup. Most of the crowd at Wembley stadium in London, and in front of their television sets, expected England to lose. But no one expected the feast of superb rugby league football that both teams served up for the whole match. England eight points to nil up and everyone wondering if the miracle was possible. A New Zealand converted try and a penalty goal before half time saw the teams take a 15 minute break level at eight all. The the second half got even better. The New Zealanders gradually got stronger and with some twelve minutes to go were ahead, but incredibly England pulled it back and going into the last ten minutes were 18-14 in front. Could they hold on? Both sides literally battered each other from one end of the field to the other until, with 31 seconds to go on the clock, England gave away a stupid penalty. The Kiwis threw everything into a final attack, the clock passed 80 minutes and the hooter went for full time, but the ball was still live and the play had to be finished. And how . A try for New Zealand in the last move of the game and it was 18-18. But the conversion kick still had to be taken. As English hearts sank miles below the Wembley turf the ball rose high and true between the posts and New Zealand had won the greatest contest between the countries anybody present could remember. A game like that would never be seen again. Or would it? If you had tuned in to your television on Sunday afternoon to watch Ireland take on New Zealand in the rugby union international in Dublin, you would presumably have done so because you liked your rugby and wanted to see how many points the All blacks were going to score in thrashing the Irish. Well Ireland had never beaten New Zealand at rugby union, ever, and nobody was expecting it yesterday. But sport is not the opiate of the people for nothing. It is because it is the only thing in life which produces miracles so often. After only 20 minutes of the game the Irish were leading by 19-0. No team had ever led New Zealand by that margin in the history of the sport. And at half time Ireland were 22-7 ahead. But, for those of you who don’t know what happened in the second half I shall put you out of your misery. The All Blacks slowly ground the Irish down, but the green army was not going to surrender. They gave away a couple of silly penalties and were still hanging on by 22-17 as the last five minutes were reached. Every Irishman was on his feet as the clock ticked away. Yes you’ve guessed it. Just 29 second to play when the New Zealanders made one last push. They kept the ball in alive and in play well past the full time 80 minute mark and referee Nigel Owens of Wales needed eyes in both sides off his head as well as the front and back to make sure no infringements occurred which would have signalled the end of the game. That 30 seconds lasted three and a half minutes before the All Blacks somehow managed to cross the try line for a five point score and tie the match. BUT, and this really must be a unique coincidence in sporting history, because the conversion kick was yet to come. The New Zealand kicker seemed to take an age lining up the ball and finally ran up and smacked it high  and handsome but wide. The game was a draw! Or was it? Not for hawk-eyed Nigel it wasn’t. He noticed that several Irish players had started to charge down the ball fractionally before the kicker started his run up to kick it and so signalled to both captains that the kick had to be taken again. This time, of course, the ball went straight between the posts and New Zealand had turned a defeat into a draw and then a win all in the longest 30 seconds of rugby I have ever seen. But isn’t it nice to be able to enjoy drama of the level of these two games and, even in your disappointment, still be able to enjoy such soul stirring competition. I am often asked which code of rugby I prefer, the 13-a-side league version of Saturday or the 15-a-side union version of Sunday and I have to say that after this weekend there is absolutely nothing to choose between them when played at their very best. My only regret is the certainty that I shall never see two such games, played within the space of twenty four hours, again. Or will I?

Mutual respect and common sense prevail over Iran.


 

Well, it appears as though a possible road to living peacefully with a nuclear capable Iran is at last on the cards. The agreement reached in Geneva last night was just the first step, but if the signatories to the agreement succeed in implementing what they agreed then a very significant world peace conference will have borne fruit. Not very often that that has  happened since the treaty of Versailles.

But last night was not just a very important step towards world peace being assured for at least five to ten years but how nice to see Western countries giving Iran the diplomatic respect it deserves. Persia, as it was when I was there in 1968, is a highly educated, intelligent and perfectly normal community of people who have been striving to show the world that they have the same national rights as any other world power for far too long and that the joint US/Israeli manic rantings against them for the past 35 years have been totally unjustified. Also I sincerely hope that Baroness Ashton gets the 2014 Nobel Peace prize for her efforts in brokering this deal. What a career step up from running the social services in Hertfordshire to becoming the most accomplished peacemaker anywhere in the globe. Few people saw that coming when Gordon Brown nominated her for the job of running EU foreign policy. I also like the way Kerry has come out of this. Just as Hague should be our next prime minister so should Kerry be the next President of the US. Well let’s hope the ‘A’ team can now tackle the problems of Syria and North Korea and make it a triple whammy!!!

“Where were you when you heard …..?”


   

There are many events in our lives that are not merely etched in our own memories but also those of most of the world. But I am sure that the one that most regularly elicits the question, “Where were you when …” is that to which the answer is prefixed by the next words “…. you heard that President Kennedy was assassinated?” In my own case it was the most unlikely place I can think of given my personal circumstances at the time. 

 

On the 22nd of November, 1963, I was working for United Press International in their Paris office where I had recently been taken on as a full time staff journalist after gaining my first degree at the Sorbonne University. I had worked through the first three years of my academic life as a part time sports writer for UPI as they had no one on the Paris staff who knew anything about European Sports and I knew them backwards.I was lucky enough to be available to do a lot of sports reporting for them. It was a dream scenario, being paid a lot of money to do something I would normally have paid for a ticket to watch, and still managing to immerse myself in my favourite subject, mediaeval ecclesiastical history. But to return to the question “Where was I …etc?”

 

Well I was just taking my seat on the lower deck of a red London Transport bus when the ticket conductor nudged me and said “ ‘ere, mate you ‘erd? President Kennedy’s been killed! No joke, that passenger in front of you just told me!’ The bus was half way along the City Road, the only time in my life that I have ever been in that road. I had been visiting my mother who had just undergone major abdominal surgery and I had only flown in from Paris that afternoon to see her. The bus conductor told me at 7.27 pm, when I was on my way back to the airport. I was back in our flat in Paris by 9.45pm. But the shock did not wear off for several days. Apart from being blown up by a land mine, not too badly hurt, in Vietnam and later being the sole survivor of a helicopter crash in Cambodia, I cannot think of any other events in my life which are still as vividly embedded in my mind. Oddly 9/11, had me riveted to the TV for four hours watching it live, but not taking it in at all. It was just an over the top, badly made horror movie for at least a fortnight before I could fully believe what I had seen. Perhaps it was the immediate acceptance of the truth of the news of JFK’s demise that moved me so much.That really is some tribute to the greatest American whose life coincided with mine. But to everybody who might read this I would love to hear the answer to the question, if it applies, “Where were you when…?”

Censoring the Internet


Censoring the Internet.

Given that the internet has slowly crept up on the world and taken over the role of ‘communicating medium en chef’, without anyone really appreciating what that role would ultimately control, we are now faced with a world in which half the population have access to some form of hardware that allows them to read, watch or talk to , with, against or at each other. The question that has to be asked today, therefore, is should such freedom of ‘access to communicate’ be controlled by any government or international organisation or should everyone in the world include among their civil rights the right to post or publish, preach or pray on, to, for or at the world as a whole, without being subject to a regulating body? I can think of no argument in favour of either giving total freedom of expression or exercising any degree of censorship or control in this matter at all. The Wikileaks farce that the US took such exception to was a wonderful example of how if there is one body that should never have this power it is the military, in any country. If a security system is as easy to penetellesmere-20-3-2011rate as the emailed information contained in the Wikileaks messages then the US armed forces should thank all the people who demonstrated how insecure their military intelligence was. At least in Britain we only allow deliberate disinformation to reach the press. But the main point at issue here is should censorship of communication be enforced when it is done to protect the young, the old, or the mentally ill? Yes it should.But only where defence of the most vulnerable members of society is at issue.The picture (above) demonstrates better than anything why censorship never works. This is an image which any normal person would look at with perhaps fleeting interest and not give it another thought. But if I was to tell you what it represented to those who had already been told its significance and, more importantly, the message which it carried instructing those in the know how or when to act in a particular way, you would be horrified. But how could any censor, who was not previously primed to expect and then interpret such an image, be able to say whether it should or should not be shown? They would have an impossible and meaningless task. Would someone please tell me how to regulate the displaying of such iconography. I know that it desperately needs to be done. But not how !

My garden’s inspiration


My garden’s inspiration

It is always a joy to write in surroundings which inspire me to think of everything that I love in life and make me want to share my happiness with others. Well, being fortunate enough to have a corner of my garden as secluded and inspiring as this,(see below) you can see why my mind is so often moved to write about the pleasant things and events that I hear about or meditate upon, rather than just criticising the worst in the world when so much of it is worth praising. The trees and lawn always make me feel really glad that I have had so much good fortune in my time. An education that enlightened me and filled me with pleasure and knowledge. A career that took me to all five continents and let me watch all the different ways in which humanity amuses itself, but therein lies the rub.I so often only saw places because I was sent there to write about the brutal side of mankind. I pray for people caught up in war because invariably it has been my lot to watch organised carnage taking place in stunningly beautiful sites. I got more joy out of hearing Mass sung in Vietnamese in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Saigon than any of the English language horrors of pseudo sacred singing that Vatican two allowed the English speaking world to inflict on its worshippers. I still much prefer Latin to English in Church. But that is probably because it was the only language in the Church until I was nearly twenty five, and, more importantly, as long as Mass was said in Latin I could serve at the altar because I could say the acolyte’s responses. My greatest regret in the Far East was not being able to serve Mass because I did not speak the language. I am sure the assembled prelates at Vatican two never thought of that aspect of what they were changing. But sitting in a lounger in a garden such as this and letting the scenery tell me what to think, and consequently to write, I really do feel that the world is a very nice place. It is only those of us who think solely of their own needs who are blinded to the beauty of creation and have to spoil it. Wars are invariably started for some spurious, right sounding motives but executed in haste and with so little thought for the innocent victims of the hell they are orchestrating, that one can only feel sorry for the politicians who start them. After all, can any man honestly stand up and say “I know what is best for the world” when his own narrow vision of such a small part of it is all that he has to go on when making such a pronouncement? Sadly, too often the decorated hero is the man who had little option but to obey an order, although many soldiers do give their lives trying to save their friends and these I salute from the bottom of my heart. But I started this short reflection on the happiness my garden brings me. Maybe it has told me something more than I expected. Maybe it has told me that I must not forget that everything I have enjoyed in life has been a wonderful gift. It is certainly impossible to say that I have earned the pleasure I have had in my time, because I am only human and not by the longest stretch of the imagination in any way a holy or saintly person. So Why have I been so lucky? I have no idea, but I do know one thing. I have met an awful lot of people who have devoted their lives to helping others and they come to mind so often that I know how little I have contributed compared to the world’s genuine saints. I knew a thirty year old woman who had spent seven years on her own running an orphanage for blind and abandoned children in French West Africa. I had one colleague who gave all his salary, for the three years he was posted to Vietnam, to a nursing home there that had no income but whatever people donated. He could not square his wealth with his conscience, as he put it, and to this day I know how much good he did. I cannot name him, he will not allow me to.

But this is just a photograph that is bringing back memories, pleasant ones as I hoped. Soon it will be cold winter and the grass may well be white, but then, in a few years I suppose I will too. But while my Autumn must inevitably pass through to Winter I know I will never see another Spring. But my garden will!!

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Beyond My Understanding


Today’s reflection is a poem.

          Beyond My Understanding

I wonder what Heaven will be like?

Happy and holy, with God on his throne,

Smiling as he counts all the good souls

He’s created to love as His own.

But how could they be anything but loving,

For He couldn’t create anything bad?

And as each of us watches Him judge us

How could we want him, through us, to be sad?

For that would mean some souls could be satanic

And there might be some sins that can’t be forgiven.

But because God’s goodness is total,

Each heart or mind, can’t on seeing Him,

Wish to be anything but shriven?

I just can’t believe such a good God created

Souls so wicked he’d have to send them to hell.

Because if His love for us is not overrated

How could he sound our eternal death knell?

Dear God.

If you love me,

In your mercy,

Do tell!!

God’s reply

“You may have heard of Satan or Lucifer

An angel with the power to corrupt so well

That he thinks he can spoil the souls I make

So, they’ll have to spend forever in hell.

He sits by his fiery furnace, 

Flapping his satanic wings

Waiting all day for sinners,

Who’ve done the wickedest things.

Deeds so awful, I’ll banish them on judgement day

But when they see Me they

Just kneel and weep and pray.

Now this moves me to tears,

So I forget what they’ve done

And I bless them and forgive every one.

Poor Satan sits in his hell

Feeling lonely and sad.

He can’t understand where the sinners are,

They really were so terribly bad.

So I’ve sent him this note, to remind him

That nobody’s too naughty for me.

“Give up your tempting mate, you’re losing.

Come up to Heaven and join us for tea”.

Anton Wills-Eve

Caring For Each Other – Congress and the ACA


What an awful shame that the US has so many private insurance sharks that the genuinely needy in its society cannot be guaranteed proper health care when they need it without bankrupting themselves. President Obama had the right idea when he decided to nail the colours of his presidency, and how it would be judged by posterity, to the mast of the good ship ACA. – mind you, I suppose he had to justify his Nobel Peace Prize somehow! But I really do believe that he cares about his flock and wants to ensure that they are cared for when ill and not made worse by financial worries. But if he cares this much, and cannot stand for another term in 2016, he really should be telling his fellow Americans that there is no place for selfishness in caring for the sick. Because that is what the debate in the House was all about last night. Rich, or reasonably well off, Americans can pick and choose how they insure themselves on the basis of what they want to afford and not what their share of insuring everybody should be. In Britain our NHS is paid for out of National Security Contributions and income tax and everybody has to pay what the government  demands. They cannot opt out. That is what Obama should do now with his Health Care Bill. Really raise the compulsory contributions from all citizens who are able to pay something, each being assessed according to their wealth. That could soon send the private Insurance sharks packing. Also I would love to see the federal side of US government really given teeth in this matter and the whole issue taken out of the hands of individual state legislatures. National defense is what it says; NATIONAL. Health care should also be NATIONAL and a few more oligarchs in governorships brought down to size and forced to obey the President. I often wonder why there is a President if his only really effective power is one of veto – ie. defence – and not enforcement – ie. attack. Still by January 2nd so many people will have become so uptight about the issue I should imagine they will all be running to sign up to ACA in order to get free treatment for the heart conditions which their selfish  worries have brought upon themselves.

A wonderful surprise.


Living in the part of England that I do, what used to be northern Cheshire on the estuary of the river Dee by Hoylake golf links on the Wirral peninsula, I am only a twenty five minute drive from the old Roman fortress city of Chester, first settled by the Romans in 79AD. Now Chester is best known for its wonderful Roman walls which are largely complete and certainly the best Roman ‘ruin’ in England. It was manned to stop the Welsh invading England and even after the ancient world disappeared it remained one of the most strategically important towns in Britain. Not surprising then that following the Christian revival in the seventh century that the beautiful Benedictine monastery of St. Werburg’s was built there around the late 670s. Like so many very early Benedictine houses, the Abbey had naturally perfect acoustics, but for an instrument that was not to come into its own in Churches for more than 900 years. The organ. After the reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries in England St.Werburg’s became an Anglican cathedral and the Bishop of Chester was one of the most influential prelates in the north west of England.

But just as the Benedictine tradition had always insisted on producing the most beautiful church music in the western world for 700 years so the tradition continued at Chester. The acoustics were almost perfect for both choral and organ music so the city soon became renowned for its music. So much so that every Thursday of the year at lunchtime leading organists from all over Britain. and now many other parts of the world , give 45 minute recitals for the the city’s music lovers. In all the time I have lived near Chester my wife and I have made a point of getting to recitals as often as we can because they are genuinely of the highest international standard. 

But even though we have heard leading virtuosi from many places playing all the main works in the classical organ repertoire, yesterday we got a real shock. The recital was given by the extraordinary Italian organist, Marco Lo Muscio, who specialises in arranging and transcribing music of all genres, composed for a wide variety of instruments, and performing them on the organ. You can imagine our amazement yesterday when we heard  an instrument, on which we normally listened to Bach, Widor, Buxtehude ,Vierne and the like, being used to produce an incredible mixture of variations of music by Rick Wakeman, Erik Satie and Paganini, or variations on his most famous caprice, being literally hammered out with all the force and gusto of a jazz pianist or keyboard maestro of the progressive rock era. But the wonderful thing was that Marco made it sound as though that was where the music truly belonged. On an organ, in a Cathedral! The shock to ears not accustomed to this combination was both a revelation and a short period of exquisite enjoyment  the like of which I had never heard  before. But here is the irony. When the first Roman general subdued the locals and settled there one thousand nine hundred thirty four years ago the locals disliked both him and everything he stood for.  Yesterday The city of Chester could celebrate three things for which it will always be grateful to Rome. By settling where they did all that time ago the Romans left behind one of the best natural archaeological sites in England and Chester University, in consequence, can boast one of the world’s finest faculties of archaeology. Then, thanks to their love of equestrian sports, the Romans left Chester a centre of horse racing, a sport for which it is still famous in England and allows it to stage several of the leading flat season races. And yesterday a third Roman arrived to show, on the Cathedral’s magnificent organ, just how much enjoyment he and his countrymen can still bring to one of England’s oldest and most beautiful cities.              

Child abuse and the law.


A British mp today asked that a book advocating excessive corporal punishment in a chapter on how parents should discipline their children be banned because it included appalling examples of child abuse. I am not adding to the popularity of the book by naming it, but I do hope Amazon withdraws it from sale asap. However,I sincerely hope that this subject does not become a religious issue but remains what it is “an issue about whether corporal punishment of any kind at any age can be defended in law when the recipients cannot defend themselves.” If we stick to this issue then the book in question is already advocating that certain people should break the law and as such the selling of it is also a crime. I cannot imagine that most people who work for Amazon would not voluntarily refuse to sell the book anyway if they knew what it advocated. A couple of days ago I was saddened to read that a judge could not defend an abused Pakistani girl on the most obscure technical legal grounds I have ever read. No parent or any other person has the right to torture anybody, and mentally that is what corporal punishment is. The real tragedy of this sort of literature, indeed of any medium which encourages people to hurt others, porn sites are the worst, should be closed down. NOT on religious grounds but on humanitarian grounds. Why have a law which tells us what our civil rights are and then not enforce them? How many people regret the abuse practised by ‘celebrities’ while at the same time doing nothing to stop them? We can all point fingers, but that is not enough. Remove all books and films which pander to the depraved. The law already spells out what such depravity is! And already brands advocates of it as criminals.

An Interesting Week For US Followers


An Interesting Week For US Followers.

It’s My Adorable Wife’s Birthday Tomorrow


Ode to my Wife

To thee, my wife, my love my life
I own all pleasure I have known
My guardian through all harm and strife
Whose heart beats always with my own.
I offer you everything that is mine
And pray each day in gratitude
To God who made you so divine, 
Adopting no hypocritical attitude
When praising your eyes, your hair your face
Without which I’ll die each morn and night
When thou art taken to a higher place
To dwell forever in God’s loving sight.

But, my darling, I well can see
T’is better mourning fall to me
Than thou remain, thy tears to shed,
Each night without me in thy bed.

How I used a useless year.


It seems almost incredible that it is twelve months since I began putting up posts here and on the writing consultancy site. Last October I was suddenly faced with three separate serious medical diagnoses which both frightened me and took away, at first, my will to share my thoughts and writing with others. One may say that being told one has has an untreatable illness for which there is no known cure, but is not by any means terminal, just painful and incredibly tiring, is not all that serious. But when I tell you that added to this the cancer from which I was already suffering suddenly got worse and a secondary tumour was suspected and investigated for several months, and then a follow up to four cerebral strokes, which involved a weird sequence of memory loss and confusion, and you can start to imagine what I was going through. It is a wonderful thing to have a caring wife and family, I would not have managed as well as I did without them and the large number of people on five continents who daily kept me in their prayers. Anyway, if you are wondering where I have been that about sums it up. But during a year such as this what does one do? Well this is what I did.

After four months of regular hospital appointments taking up most of my time I had to resume writing somehow. Having never earned a penny in my life doing anything else I started to amuse myself by writing what I wanted to write and not what breaking news or literary criticism dictated. First I found a wonderful site, FanStory, which I would recommend to anyone who is bored and has no other way of diverting themselves except by writing and chatting to other putative Nobel Literature Prize winners. This super site lets you post anything you like and gives you the chance constructively to review works posted by any other site members. There is also the option to chat to writers from all over the world who are often far more interesting in themselves than their writing. Add to this the daily prose and poetry competitions available to all and the site really can draw you back from the abyss of never believing in yourself again. While enjoying myself with this diversion I also wrote a series of poems , flash fiction and short stories that I found a lot of fun. On the advice of my family and friends I gathered a selection of these and they are being published under the title ‘ Day Dreams’ by Anton Wills-Eve at the end of next month. I like to think that either the paperback book or e-book edition would make an ideal stocking filler for Christmas for that friend or relative for whom you just can’t think of a small gift. The collection covers every genre of prose and verse there is from humour to tragedy, mystery to romance and several heartfelt works inspired by my own life.

By the middle of the summer my health was picking up, or at least getting no worse, the cancer for instance had NOT spread. This type of encouragement prompted me to write a novel and I must admit this was pure enjoyment. A romance between two neurotically crippled youngsters with quite different approaches to the raw deal life has dealt them, and the way they rescue their affection for each other, seemed a cheerful way to venture into fiction, although of course a lot of it is true! So I finally finished my first novel ‘James and Jacqueline’ which I hope will be available in all formats and on line by January.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of my health problems, certainly the most incomprehensible to me, has been the memory confusion. I have watched a whole series of excellent television dramas and comedies in the past year and enjoyed them as though I was watching them for the first time. The odd thing is that I had seen all of them before but had absolutely no recollection when viewing them again. This really was a blessing with detective mysteries because although they had been seen before they were quite new and the plots had to be followed and worked out all over again. It is indeed very strange how illnesses have their own compensation in so many cases in life. For instance, had I not broken my left wrist before a school rugby match when I was twelve I would never have taken up tennis for the next four months. I was quite good and have always thanked God for that injury. What a strange prayer I must have said!

But to return to the last year. Ever since I was forced to give up being a war correspondent in 1982 and switched to translating, lecturing and reviewing until retiring from full time work, I have always kept up with breaking news everywhere in the world. I am a third generation news journalist and even while at University in Paris I earned my (considerable) pocket money as a sports and war reporter for an American News Agency. I cannot imagine life without writing so I shall try to continue to post something, however brief or boring, every day for as long as I can. So until tomorrow’s offering, whatever it may turn out to be, I bid you all goodbye and for those of you who do not live in England think how lucky you are with the storms we have going on at the moment.

All of you take care of yourselves

New York Gun Crime


New Yorkers are today getting very hot under the collar about an appeal court’s decision to take a judge off a case because she seemed biased against a proposed change in the law to stop police frisking people without reason as it appeared to be against their civil rights and also nearly everyone so searched was either black or Hispanic. It was a politically motivated decision because Mayoral elections are imminent and the opposing candidates take opposing views on the role of the police. But what I found most interesting was the fact that since the police have been more rigorous in their searching of youngsters in high crime areas of the city the gun related crimes and deaths had plummeted. Surely all they have to do is stop and frisk, as they so delightfully call it, every other white person in the same areas. There could be no claims of racial inequality and even more New Yorkers would live to a ripe old age.

However, the real issue here is the United States Constitution. It’s main function, of course, is to exist so that it can be amended whenever something arises which reflects social change since the days of Jefferson and Washington back in 1786. This, of course, is fairly frequent. But surely all amendments should be prioritised so that when the issue at stake is of more importance than another amendment which might have been necessary, eg in this case one must ask is it more important to stop people shooting each other than making sure their civil rights are protected? Obviously fighting gun crime is far more important than telling policemen not to be insultingly rude and rough when searching people just because they don’t like the look of them. Of course no policeman should do that, but if the fact that they do means more people live longer then the amendment which gives them the right to stop and frisk should take precedence over the searchee’s right not to be racially sought out for inspection.  I have always thought the US constitution was hastily conceived and drawn up and the number of important amendments that have had to be made to it reflect this. I think someone should re-write it now as it stands with the amendments  placed in order of priority and all future changes placed in  the document where their importance warrants. But that would be far too simple and put an awful lot of lawyers out of work. Still they could become bankers, I suppose.