So the week started with the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ celebrating her 100th birthday. Judging by the BBC programme then she also appeared to be in quite decent nick for a very senior citizen. In summarising her importance then Barry Humphries commented that she ‘was a voice of an era when civilisation was under threat.’
I like that but also I like the fact that to sing to the troops she went to the other side of the world - Burma in 1944. No Jumbo 747 into an International airport and then a stretched air-conditioned limo to a venue but a brutally hot, time consuming and dangerous journey into the jungle to stand on a soap box and belt tunes out beside a bloke on a piano whilst you hoped the look outs were concentrating on the perimeter rather than the music. She is simply the best of British.
Raising some money for York Carers Centre has been productive as I took my talk on my bike ride across the USA to a couple of ladies evening groups in Harrogate and a home gig in Acaster Malbis with the local branch of the Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association this week. The talk lasts under an hour and I take the folk chronologically across the country – mountain ranges, camping, churches, deserts, bears, mustangs and the full 9 yards (as they say over the pond). The greatest interest seems to lie in my talking about dealing with saddle sores! This became known as the ‘Knaresborough’ problem. This was because I didn’t mention some serious discomfort as I cycled in the daily blog but obviously mentioned it to my wife in Face Time conversations. She then told anyone from Knaresborough who appeared in her shop. My arse was the talk of the town! Anyway more evenings in the diary.
So if Vera is a heroine then PC Palmer also was at the Houses of Parliament. He lost his life to a terrorist who stabbed him to death. This
tragedy was compounded by two other innocents losing their lives. In addition the terrorist was shot. We have a daughter who works in central London and this is far too close for comfort. I feel so sorry for those families who will not see their loved ones again.
The politicians talked of the horror but ‘life will go on’ and the worrying but frank admission by the Mayor that no city is ever completely safe. Stand by for vigils, bouquets of flowers and other actions that will not solve the problem but may ease the grief.
Against this numbing catastrophe then we buried, with literal honours, another former terrorist who oversaw the murder of many innocent men, women and children as well as British soldiers. I genuinely accept and believe that we must look at his defining contribution to the ending of the Northern Irish conflict and his critical subsequent political leadership. His cause was about the errors of colonial miss rule and the resentment it developed such that murder seemed, to the IRA, the only solution.
The London Islamist terrorist no doubt had the roots of his vile beliefs created by partially the colonial and western mistakes in the Middle East and he was prey to others who poisoned his mind and created the belief that killing your own countrymen, he was British, would promote their cause. I doubt, however, he would have had a former US President fly several thousands of miles for his funeral with the great and the local good. Confusing isn’t it.