Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Getting there

Like last time, the day of the move dawned bright and early, and I had collected the van by 0800. Drew and I then worked like Trojans and loaded the van with all the large stuff, before we walked down to sign the lease and take possession of the keys.

Once we had access, we drove round and got everything unloaded into the house before we drove back and left the van for Julie and Glenys to load whilst Drew and I went off to have some lunch.

We then drove round to Glenys's house, assisting with the unloading of the van, before we headed off to Big Yellow and completely emptied the storage unit that we had there.

We had decided that rather than fill the house up, we would load all of the boxes into the garage and bring them into the house as and when we had space. Doing this meant that we were finished and had the van back at the hire place whilst it was still light and got to bed at a decent hour.

Thursday was taken up with blitzing the old house from top to bottom, with it being finished on Friday morning just before the estate agent did the walk round and took the keys from us. The garden was cleared, with a couple of trips to the dump,  and I was back home early evening, in time to go and collect Maggie and have dinner ready for when Alec arrived from Hull, ready for the weekend.

Saturday was another lovely, but cold, day, and we were on the 0920 train to London, having our first pint at Waterloo by 1030, before heading to the Barmy Arms in Twickenham to meet with everyone.

My plan this year was that we would arrive at the stadium in plenty of time for the kick off, but as with just about every year, this plan went to rat shit with the introduction of beer. With the kick off at 1500, we didn't actually leave the pub until fifteen minutes before the kick-off, and by the time we'd bought food, got to the ground, found our seats, we'd missed the first twenty minutes of the game. Worse than that, the Navy were winning 19-5!

At this point, Maggie was worried! However, in the last twenty minutes of the first half, the Army scored two more tries, both of which were converted, and it was 19-19 at half time.

During the second half, the Army were completely dominant, the Navy only scoring one converted try, leaving the final score 43-26 in the Army's favour, much to Maggie's relief.

So the large group of us, with the addition of the two young ladies who adopted us, headed back to the Barmy Arms to carry on drinking, before making our way along the tow path to Richmond, via the White Swan, finishing up in The Old Ship.

I don't think that we had as much to drink as last year, and we were definitely home earlier, and again I felt surprisingly good on Sunday morning, but I think that all the alcohol must have left my body overnight on Sunday, as when I went to work on Monday, I felt rubbish, and still feel full of cold.

So stay tuned for the story of why "I think we're gonna need a bigger house" which will follow soon!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Final stages

It's strange to look around this house and to think that it's just sixteen months since the house was in a similar state, full of boxes and no access to most of my belongings, but on that occasion it was because we had just moved in to here.

Just about all of the "small" stuff, books, CDs, DVDs etc, are now boxed and in storage, the aim being that when we move on Wednesday, only the "large" stuff, beds, wardrobes etc, will need to be loaded into the van and taken to the new house.

It will still be at least three trips, as the first trip will be to the house that me and Drew are moving to, then I will need to move Julie and Glenys's stuff to Glenys's house, and then, if time permits, Drew and I will head off to the storage and try to move as much as possible from there to our house.

There is a little bit of a time pressure but not a huge amount. We move on Wednesday, I've allocated Thursday to cleaning this house and doing the last few bits, and then we hand over the keys on Friday morning. Fortunately, I had sufficient time-owing from work to enable me to take a few days off without having to eat into any of my annual leave.

But I can't look forward to a nice chilled weekend sorting the house out, as Alec arrives from Hull on Friday evening and bright (at least I hope it'll be bright!) and early on Saturday we head up to Twickenham for a day of drinking with the annual Army v Royal Navy rugby match in the middle.

Alec has been the one who has got all of the tickets this year and there are about thirty-five of us, a combination of family, old friends, new friends and colleagues. We're even letting Maggie go this year, although it is with strict conditions.

In the last twelve years, the Navy have only won the match once, in 2010. Maggie has only been to the match once, and, you guessed it, it was 2010. So she has been told by almost everyone that if the Army lose again this year, she won't be allowed to go again.

And, as with most years, the winner of this match will be the Inter-Services champion, as both the Army and the Navy have already beaten the Royal Air Force.

So as of Wednesday, I will be Internet incommunicado until Friday, so the next update is not likely to be until at least next Sunday, as long as I'm not too hungover!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

All attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail

In 1969, the present round of what became known as "The Troubles" began in Northern Ireland. I say present because, despite the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, there are still dissidents within the Republican movement who wish to carry on this fight, and who continue to kill and maim both service personnel and civilians for their cause.

I remember the start of The Troubles well, because despite the fact that I was only two at the time, my family moved from Düsseldorf, in what was then West Germany, to Lisburn in Northern Ireland, because my father was a British Soldier serving in the Royal Military Police.

In the twenty-nine years that elapsed between 1969 and 1998, approximately 3483 people were killed, of whom the vast majority were civilians or security forces, killed either by bullet or bomb. And the attacks were not just restricted to Northern Ireland, with several bombing campaigns being carried out in mainland Britain as well as attacks on British bases and service personnel on continental Europe.

Unfortunately, due to the indiscriminate nature of these types of attack, many innocent civilians were killed. One of the most high profile of these cases was Nick Spanos and Stephen Melrose, two Australian lawyers working in London who were on a walking holiday in Europe with their partners in 1990. Having been out for a meal, they were returning to their car, which had British number plates, and were shot dead by two masked gunmen.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) claimed responsibility, claiming that they had mistaken the two Australians for off-duty British service men and that their murders had been "a tragedy and a mistake".

And this is the major problem with indiscriminate terrorist attacks; innocent people get killed, be they Australian lawyers on holiday or eight year old boys watching their dad competing in a marathon.

But none of this could happen without funding, monies that will enable these terrorists to purchase the weapons that they use and the explosives for the bombs that they detonate. But where does this funding come from?

This is the irony in the tragic events that occurred in Boston yesterday, because yesterday, the citizens of that city became the victims of a terrorist attack, of the type that Londoners and Brummies experienced in the 1970's, of the identical type, two bombs in litter bins, that killed two children aged three and twelve in Warrington in 1993.

So why is this ironic? It is ironic because, much of the funding for the bullets and bombs used by the IRA was raised by the large Irish-American community in Boston, Massachusetts, through a front organisation called NORAID. And here, the techniques that they helped to fund, to kill innocent civilians, have been used against them.

Whilst I do not think that anyone deserves to be the victim of a terrorist attack, I think that America needs to realise that not only did terrorism exist prior to 11th September 2001, but that it is not always perpetrated by those from the middle-east. The funds that their citizens raised provided not just the raw materials for terrorists, but also funded the training and helped to develop new techniques of murder, some of which have now, forty years on, come back to haunt them.

And the quote that is the title of this entry? It was taken from a speech by Margaret Thatcher that she delivered as Prime Minister to the Conservative Party Conference in October 1984, the morning after a bomb that had been planted by the IRA in the Grand Hotel in Brighton in September 1984 had detonated, killing five people. It had been their intention to kill the Prime Minister and her Cabinet, an aim that failed.