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Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Brinkmanship & Boredom - By Patrick Brigham





The Immortal words of Norman Throades – known fondly as the ‘Bard of Berkshire’ – will forever ring in the ears of present day, and often bewildered Brexiteers. As we patriotically watch the BBC Parliament Channel, at Prime Ministers Question Time, and in order to absorb the reassuring words of dear Theresa. But, how close to reality is it really?

So much like the ‘Theater of The Absurd,’ and in particular ‘Waiting for Godot,’ by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, one wonders if anything will finally turn up, or are the representatives of our noble nation in fact a bunch of ham actors, and out of work film extras.

Sticking religiously to the script, the familier mantra about ‘getting a good deal,’ still echo’s around the Houses of Parliament, to a crescendo of patriotic and Tory avowal. Almost as though Parliament is trapped in Dr Who’s Tardis, one wonders if the House of Commons is presently floating around in some distant galaxy, or trapped in a deceptive political time warp?



But does the question which Norman Throades quite rightly asks – in his scintillating 19th Century poem – simply relate to political perspectives? Or, to put it in layman’s terms, do our worthy UK political representative actually know what is going on in the real world? Because, having recently watched this program for a whole afternoon, for me at least, the British Parliament can only be described as an entertaining, inward looking mutual admiration society.

Mainly comprising elegant and amusing accusations – followed of course by often inaccurate, but confident rebuttals – the real question is, is the present cabinet running out of dialogue, or are we all running out of patience?

There was a time when the general public was quite rightly regarded as gullible, ignorant if not foolish, and that – for want of any outside propaganda seeping through – what was reported in the British newspapers or announced on TV by pompous cabinet ministers, was both truthful and reassuring. But not so today.

Ever since the referendum, that bloody man Trump, Farage and ‘The Fat Boy of Peckham,’ Boris Johnson, have littered the media with their contempt for the truth. These days we are becoming familier with expressions like alternative facts, fake news, and out of date – or hidden true government statistics – all of which is calculated to disguise the truth.

I often imagine that, somewhere in the middle of the English Channel, there is a giant invisible filter, its sole purpose being to distort, and to turn almost any legitimate EU reportage on its head. Or, an enormous cracked mirror, which only shows the British voter, a warped, and back to front reflection of the truth, where ministers even accuse their opponents of being traitors, if they stand against them in any way. This is hardly democratic, is it?


In a normal society, lies are tolerated, but never truly accepted. And so, I can’t help believing that the present British cabinet, either wants you to believe it’s questionable Brexit propaganda, or may actually believe in it themselves. These days there now seem to be two truths: carefully reported Brussels truth, or heavily filtered and often corrupted Brexit truth. So, perhaps it is high time for a change, and rather like anything which is split, the present UK government obviously needs to be replaced.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Who Owns Your Body? - By Patrick Brigham


Ealing council is considering legal action against anti-abortion protesters accused of “harassing” women attending a clinic.


There are many people who think that abortion is wrong. They come from all backgrounds, either quoting the scriptures – from whichever religion, church, cult, ethnic group they belong – and the many different statistics, which are currently in favour, or available from government sources.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, to be motivated by whichever group they belong, and to protest in public if need be. This is called democracy, but when they cross the line, and actually prevent young women from receiving a safe and professional medical abortion – in an attempt to turn back the clock – then one must ask oneself if they are inspired by ignorance, prejudice, or simply contempt.

There’s a group of people in this world, who see themselves as establishment figures, which they are not and never will be. They claim the right to direct the ethics and mores of society, as if they are viewing us all from a great height. To them, the hoipolloi, grockels, numpty’s, misfits, or never will be’s of society, are a lesser order. Self proclaimed, they consider themselves to be a part of some kind of Messianic class, which somehow keeps them on their morel high ground.

It isn’t that they are bad people, or that they don’t mean well – they may be people who have brought up children, and who experience revulsion at the thought of an abortion taking place in their own family – but they also seem to be blind to the realities of modern day living, and the many pressures brought by todays society, on a young single mother.


Many of the arguments used by these zealots were around in the 60s, when post war Britain was still trying to emerge from an unimaginable black hole. As America was pouring its largess into a blighted Europe, via the Marshall Plan, the UK had to go it alone, with no handouts, a mountain of debt, and a bleak future.

But then what should come along? Suddenly we were all confronted with the beautiful people, stylish clothes, sex, drugs, rock & roll, and a feeling of release. As the song goes by Josh Dunson, there was definitely ‘Freedom in The Air,’ and believe me, we all knew what to do with it!

Incidentally, while this was all happening, a somewhat dusty and austere British Government remained blithely unaware of the implications all this euphoria would bring about. Rather like a line of pedantic plodding ducks, they simply went about their coal exports, food rationing, and bored us silly, with rather glib and simplistic speeches. Usually in a rather funny accent – reminiscent of Harry Enfield – informing us about our rosy future, what they forgot to mention was venereal disease, and unwanted pregnancies. This was because, in the past, it had always been traditionally left to the private sector!

If you consider that the 60s was about the mixing of previously well defined social classes, those young women who saw the UK as a new, classless, multi-cultured, benign country – full of adventure, and the spice of life – were very often left holding the baby. Many, who had experienced an enjoyable respite in a lay-by off the A4, often faced angry parents who had not foreseen this blight occurring, in their otherwise drab but bearable live’s. Not that many of them were always aware of their daughter’s dilemma, but they would most certainly have been aware of the catastrophe which often followed.

In those days there were many court cases, in which some ex nurse or ‘Knitting Needle Nell,’ was prosecuted for performing an illegal abortion. This was usually because their victim had ended up in the local emergency hospital, had blabbed to the duty doctor, and an arrest had subsequently been made. In mitigation the accused would always say that they were helping some poor unfortunate out, whose life would otherwise have been burdened with an unwanted child. But what we will never know, is how many young women they had managed to kill, prior to their arrest.

Dr Marie Stopes was a pioneer in the field of birth control, but one of the centers named after her in west London has become a target for protesters


Considering the stigma which an unwanted pregnancy might have caused, in the 60s, there were far more pressing matters for a young and vulnerable woman to face. Finding accommodation, adoption, getting support from the social security system, and finally – if they decided to keep their offspring – dealing with personal relationships, and eventual marriage. Men are the same the world over, when it comes to accepting someone else’s child, and so it was often the case that children were secreted away, and introduced at the last moment.

I am sure that if one was to interview some of the protesters, we would discover good people. But although todays society is no longer quite so bigoted as it was in the 60s, and obsessed with children born out of wedlock, abortion is very often the best option.

*** The result of rape is another matter, and I think it should be treated quite separately, because of the criminal aspects concerned. ***

Finally, children can be simply inconvenient – not due to some trivial whim – but due to the terrible pressures experienced by those looking for public housing, or controlled rents, and the money to pay for it. Single mothers need help, and not always available from family members, child care is also an issue if they have to go to work, or to navigate the now floored Universal Credit.

They look very angry, those ladies outside the Marie Stopes clinic, although from the photographs, I cannot see any priests, from any religious group, or men for that matter. So, my inclination is to know more about these ladies themselves, and not the unborn children they claim to represent.