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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

Fred's Blog

Blog

Brexit

Posted on 19 January, 2019 at 23:57 Comments comments ()
I think sometimes that our problem in Britain is that the voting population is not so bright. Any nation who could vote in three successive Socialist governments in the face of a predictable economic decline cannot be MENSA material. We now seem to lurch from political crisis to political crisis and although we have plenty of politicians (who look forward 5 or less years) we have no statesmen who look ahead generations. There is an Aesop fable which seems to me to demonstrate where we are with our democratically voted Brexit.

 There was once a pond. A family of frogs lived there, happily and with plenty of food. Naturally, frogs from other ponds migrated to their pond – it was a comfortable, if not opulent environment. 

Soon, the pond seemed overcrowded to the original family of frogs and they began to complain. The frogs split into factions, squabbling over resources and their conditions.

Eventually, they realised they needed a leader who could represent them but the squabbles continued and no progress ensued. They prayed every day to Zeus, greatest God of all. They prayed so fervently that Zeus looked down on the troublesome frogs and said, ‘I’ll give you a king. Someone who you can follow, but please stop pestering me with your prayers. You irritate me.’
So saying, Zeus threw down a log into the pond. A big green log that floated on the verdant algae-infested water. To start with the frogs loved their new King. They called him Old King Log. They frolicked jumping from the log into the water and more frogs came from far and wide to see this Great King.

Soon, the frogs began to bicker for nothing had changed in a material, palpable way. The various factions began squabbling again. Eventually they began to pray to Zeus saying, ‘We don’t like this Old King Log any more. He doesn’t do anything, and he just floats on the pond.’

Zeus said, ‘You asked for a king. I gave you one. Now stop disturbing me with your prayers.’

But the frogs continued. They despised Old King Log. They shunned him and even when the sun shone they would no longer sit upon his broad, green reliable back. They kept praying and pestering Zeus for a new king who would move and do things. They prayed to all the Gods, they argued, pestered and they complained. Their prayers became a running sore on Mount Olympus until the Gods begged Zeus to do something with these troublesome frogs.

Zeus heard their prayers. He threw them a snake. The snake, to the dismay of the frogs, gobbled them all up.

The moral: Brexit - be careful what you wish for – your prayers and votes may be answered.

Windrush, Politics and Prejudice

Posted on 25 April, 2018 at 9:46 Comments comments ()
The plight of the Windrush families and their British naturalisation is a topic quite close to my heart.
My father was born in India, you see. When WW2 broke out, he came to Britain, joined the RNR and as a ship’s doctor had quite a bad war in the Pacific, North Atlantic and Mediterranean. He held a British passport and settled as a GP in Bermondsey once the war ended in 1947. He obtained British naturalisation without difficulty, because he was a British subject and that did not change until the immigration act of 1948. After 1949, any foreign person whether from the Commonwealth or not, had to apply for naturalisation. There was at one time, concern that his children might not qualify for British citizenship, but this seems to have dissipated and I have had a British passport all my life. The point was, that he was here before the 1948 act came into force.
My father’s British citizenship was allowed because he came from what was then a Commonwealth country and British nationality was automatic. He always held a British passport.
The Home office according to the 1948 act have acted within the law but as in any government department they seem keen to apply the law in a draconian and uncaring fashion. Heartless really.
Many of the Windrush generation of immigrants came here on their parent’s passports. They were mostly in lower socioeconomic groups and so probably didn’t need to apply for passports early on (people didn’t travel so much in those days) and it seems for many they found the prospect of applying for a passport daunting once the Home Office regulations became well-known. They have ended up as citizens of Nowhere. Unable to get British nationality, they cannot return home either and become West Indian citizens – they have no papers.
Combined with this situation, many of them cannot afford the thousands of pounds to undergo naturalisation either. Despite this, they have lived in the UK since childhood as far back as the 50’s, contributed to the running of the NHS in various roles, paid taxes and been a valuable part of our society throughout.
The Romans treated their slaves in a similar way. If slaves had ability or knowledge, and they accumulated enough wealth, the Romans would eventually allow them to become ‘freedmen’. A freedman was not a Roman citizen and had none of the rights associated with that status. They too were citizens of Nowhere.
It is almost as if, an African shipped to the West Indies in chains becomes freed from slavery then comes to Britain and becomes some kind of second class freedman.
No rights, you see.
I saw what happened in Rwanda. Black people killing black people – no one in the international community seemed to care. I always wondered whether if they had been white or even coffee-coloured there was a greater chance of some nation stepping in to prevent the slaughter of 30,000 people with machetes and their bodies dumped in a river. Maybe, even though they were all black, if they had oil the world would have intervened.
I have a deep-down feeling that race, and skin colour contribute to the Windrush problem at its roots. It looks to me like an extension of colour prejudice. It isn’t obvious, it isn’t spoken about out loud, but I think it is there deeply embedded in foundations of this problem, like some malignant insect digging away at the roots of democracy, freedom and humanity.
And no one speaks out about it until now.
Our politicians? A wise man once said that poly is Greek for many and tics are blood-sucking parasites, but all the same, it isn’t only one party or government who have condoned the prejudicial treatment of a group of people welcomed here to help re-build after WW2; it has continued through all the governments since 1948.
I am nonplussed by the thought that there is not one of them in all those years and all those elected governments who was enough of a statesman to recognise the injustice and correct it.
Our present Government professes ignorance and hides behind that as a reason for not changing the law or at least making a specified exception to the rules. There are Government ministers who maintain that until recently they were unaware of the problem. Do you believe them?
Sorry folks, I don’t!

Osborne's tax return

Posted on 7 April, 2012 at 6:29 Comments comments ()
Mr Osborne wants us all to see his tax return, so it is mooted in the press. It surprises me that he thinks anyone is interested. I would be more interested in seeing his pension plans and whether they are linkedto CPI or RPI. Most public sector workers now face the prospect of a 20% reduction in their hard-earned pension in the first fifteen years of retirement. I wonder if he does?
Transparency in how much the policicians earn is engendered by self-interest. This is because the figures when they are in Parliament will be offset by the 'two homes' and expenses claims. I suspect it is all a ploy to indicate that bankers are much better off and they will be able to say how poor they themselves are by comparison - which is a load of old tosh.
There may be another reason behind this. If Osborne knew that the Labour policians earn more as a group it would beneficial in the next election. The poor conservatives, the rich left-wingers who would be shown to be hypocrits.
It could be just as interesting to see their wives and partners tax returns too because you would get a much better picture of their over all income.
Bet we don't see those!

Benefit Fraudsters!

Posted on 29 May, 2011 at 3:43 Comments comments ()
Government cutbacks in benefits and Disability support is a subject close to most tax-payers hearts. How often do we hear people bemoaning the abuse of the system by people who have never worked, claimed all their life to be disabled, or claim unemployment benefit because they don’t want to work? Well, I have my view too. We live in a supportive society. It is one where starving people begging in the streets are noteable by their absence. Yet there are some who abuse the system. It would cost as much as the savings to catch such people out and I think they are the necessary price we pay for having an advanced system of support.
 
Our present government have now decided to make cut-backs. A government minister I heard on the radio, claims that even disabled people will have to tighten their belts if we are to manage the fiscal finances. He felt it was fair to make savings across the board, even if some disabled people suffer, because everyone is in the same boat. But they’ve got it wrong.
 
Why do I say that? I have a patient who three months ago had a brain haemorrhage. He had a severe weakness in his right arm and leg and his speech was badly affected. When seen for review in the clinic, he was walking with a stick, his speech was 90% better and although he has significant cognitive problems (severe short-term memory loss and difficulty taking in everyday events) he will be a couple of years recovering.
 
When he attended to be assessed for disability payments (he’s lost his income), the doctor filled in a form. I’ve seen this form. It asks if he can sit in one place for more than an hour. It asks if he can walk unaided for ten yards, it asks other similar questions like ‘Can you go to another place where you’ve never been before without help?’. Of course he can do these things. He would have to be half-dead to not fulfill all the criteria. The outcome was, according to the Department of Work and Pensions, that he is fully fit to return to work as a bus driver. With his cognitive problems, he was unable to explain that there is an epilepsy risk which means he will never get his PSV (Public Service Vehicle) licence back anyway.
 
OK, so that’s just one case. Talking to Jane my psychologist wife, any patient with severe post-traumatic stress or depression would fulfill all the criteria for being fit for work. What a joke!
 
My point? I just wanted to rant, but as I said above, the abuse is simply the price we pay for the system we’ve delivered. It is bound to be costly. Get used to the idea. If you vote Socialist for thirteen years, you can expect to come out of the other end with no money in the public purse. It happened in Sweden too. The last government said it was the fault of the banks, but the truth is, they didn’t regulate the banks properly and they spent and wasted trillions on ideas which didn’t work. If you voted for them, don’t complain now, it’s your own fault!
 

Politicians, Cycle-helmets and Hypocrisy

Posted on 12 April, 2011 at 17:50 Comments comments ()
‘Who is that idiot on that bicycle? He’s not wearing a cycle helmet’.
‘Really? That’s strange, he’s the UK minister for transport, responsible for road safety and cycling.’
‘Oh, right, I hear you. So it’s alright for him to go bare-headed but the rest of us have to wear helmets. Maybe it’s OK to not wear one?’
 ‘No, no, it’s just he preferrs not to’.
‘What about his kids?
‘Well, they asked him whether he felt his kids should wear cycle-helmets on BBC Radio 4 this morning, since you ask.’
‘Yeah? What did he say?’
‘He won’t talk about his family on radio.’
‘But…but… isn’t that rank hypocrisy?’
‘How can you be so reactionary.? No. It’s because he’s a politician.’
‘Well I don’t need to wear mine then.’
‘Well, yes you do. The chance of a serious head injury is significantly reduced if you wear a helmet.’
‘But he isn’t’
‘Poly means many in Greek. Tics are blood-sucking parasites. Need I say more?’
‘Hah. Poly-tics. Very funny, but give me an example of someone who’s life was saved by wearing a helmet.’
‘My nephew was hit by a car. He was on his bike. He was thrown forwards, parallel to the ground and his head struck the door of a Mercedes. There was a big dent in the door but he survived. He was wearing a helmet.’
‘Was he OK?
‘He got a head injury and a post-concussional syndrome but he got better after a couple of years.’
‘Without the helmet?’
‘Well, Rowbotham, a Newcastle Neurosurgeon in the sixties, described a man on a motorbike, who had a similar accident. He hit a wall and the base of his skull was driven upwards to contact the top of his skull. The brain was squeezed out in the gap.’
‘Maybe I should wear my helmet.’
‘Maybe you should.’
‘What about the minister?’
‘Well nothing would happen. You have to have a brain to get a brain injury.’
 

Maybe it isn't all that bad!

Posted on 10 December, 2010 at 1:06 Comments comments ()
So they stabbed the students in the back.  Predictable wasn't it?
All that can be done now is a sort of damage limitation thinking.
What bothers me most is the future generations of students of all types who will exit with debts of a minimum of £18,000 once they graduate. Larger figures are bandied about because you need to add student loans on top and some universities will charge £27,000. So, maybe an average degree  from a cheap university will cost you £25-30,000 to be paid back once you are earning over £21,000.
The principle involved in all this is an opression. If you are willing to take on a ten year repayment scheme you can get a degree. Mind you, there won't be any jobs for the people who come out of university with a degree so maybe it's a safe bet that you won't have to pay the money until the economy picks up.
Bright people from lower socio-economic groups aspiring to university, see £30,000 as a huge sum of money. Spread out over a long period and without interest it won't feel so bad. £3000 per year out of over £21000. It's a lot but it is doable - just. A mortgage of say £500 plus another£250 each month could still be affordable on £25,000. Must say I wouldn't feel encouraged to sign up to that if I was a schoolboy.
So maybe cheer up. There was nothing you students could do to change the goverment's mind.
The Limpdems lied to get elected but it's a double edged weapon. I can predict they won't get many votes from young people in the future and they are the voters who count most.
I wouldn't want to be in their shoes next election. They came as close to getting into government as they ever have done before and in one fell stroke destroyed it by failing to keep the promises they made.

Students Unite!

Posted on 27 November, 2010 at 2:46 Comments comments ()
In France they are used to student protests. They happen with monotonous regularity. In this country, students are expected to quietly sit back and put up with the SH** handed out by politicians. Flying fire-extinguishers seem to be the narrow focus of the media but no one seems to touch on the arrogant hypocrisy of escalating university fees which will inevitably squeeze the less affluent in our society out of academic opportunities and a worthwhile future.
 
University education is to become the province of rich men's sons and why? Is it because Poly means many in Greek? Or maybe it's because tics are blood-sucking parasites? Politics and politicians. Most of them are so steeped in hypocrisy that the self-serving lying creeps promise one thing to get elected then make excuses for not following their own policies.
 
I had a free education. I had a grant. I became a doctor. Am I supposed now to look back and smugly and say we can't afford that anymore?
 
Personally, although taxation is crippling, I wouldn't mind paying an extra two pence in the pound to obtain free university places for all.
 
Would you?

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