Friday, 16 April 2021

Only Another 150 To Go

US president Joe Biden recently announced his administration will pull US troops out of Afghanistan, bringing an end to its longest lasting war which started in 2001 and has taken the lives of 111,000 Afghan civilians, 2,000 US Troops and 400 British soldiers all for a price tag of $778bn.
You could be forgiven for not remembering the origins of the war, it was a long time ago and what started it all could be a bit hazy now but what it was absolutely not about at any time was going over there to keep us safe over here.
Let's go back to September 11, 2001 and the planes flying into the World Trade Centre buildings. Al Queada took the credit and as Bin Laden was head of the terrorist group, it was his head that America decided to come down upon.
As Bin Laden was in Afghanistan under the wing of the Afghanistan Government, the Taliban, it was to Afghanistan that America turned ordering the Taliban to hand him over for trial on threat of military action if they never.
The offer was made by George W Bush and Tony Blair that the Taliban would be left in power if they handed him over to the United States and the Taliban offered to trial him in Afghanistan or hand him over to the Pakistan authorities but America rejected the offer and stated that they would not negotiate their demands.
While this was going on, the US and Britain were trying to get United Nations backing to attack Afghanistan but because the UN can only sanction military action as an act of self-defence, the UN never backed it.
A 37-nation poll of world opinion carried out by Gallup in September 2001 found that large majorities in 34 of the countries did not favour military action, only in three countries, the United States, Israel, and India, was there a majority for a military strike.
With no UN backing, it was declared a NATO operation and on October 7, NATO began bombing Afghanistan.
Three days into the bombing, US officials rejected a new offer from the Taliban to hand over Osama bin Laden to a third country for trial if the Americans halted the bombing.
Nineteen years later and the Taliban may be out of Government but they still run one fifth of the nation and have a force 85,000 strong waiting to swoop back into power but never was it ever about our boys fighting so we can sleep safely in our beds at night. The Afghanistan War was entirely all about punishing the Taliban for not handing over Bin Laden and anything other is an attempt to rewrite the origins of an unpopular and disastrous war.
We shouldn't heap any praise on Biden and America for pulling their invading army out of one country because they still have troops stationed in over 150 other countries so it's a case of saying that's one down, now get you arse's out of the other 150.

Special Guest Blogger: Saint Drogo

My mother died during childbirth which was something that i always felt responsible for because, well, i was responsible for it but i was not your average cute child but i did grow into what people would say was the face of a Saint, unfortunately it was a Saint Bernard.
In my teenage years i was stricken with an illness that made me physically repulsive and the townsfolk were kind enough to give me a hut stood far away from them in a field where i wouldn't frighten the children so i gave up all my belongings and deciding to devote myself to God, became a hermit and a shepherd and stayed there on my own for forty years surviving on only barley, water and the Eucharist.
I developed a knack of bilocating which is to appear in two places at once and with a face like mine, i was noticed so i could be in the congregation at Mass and simultaneously appear sitting outside my hut watching the sheep and therefore doubling my boredom in one fell swoop.
One day my hut caught fire and the villagers came running with buckets of water and told me to get out but i said that if the Divine Goodness wants me to escape, he will allow me to and i sat and prayed and several buckets of water later i was sat amidst the smoldering remains of my hut with barely a singed smock so took that as sign that i had been spared.
My hut was rebuilt and on my death i was handed the Patronage of unattractive people but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is a pity, because i would regularly receive letters from the Association of Beholders to tell me that I had a face like a sack full of dented bells.
I now regularly receive prayers from young people to say they have a party coming up and can i keep away any pimples or cold sores which i am fine with, it's the requests to make sure that i try and make them look as little like me as possible that sting.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Special Guest Blogger: John Glenn

When it comes to space travel, most of us remember the Sovit Union Dog Laika, Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong but all the other astronauts and missions tend to get jumbled together in a hazy mess but it was the competition between the Soviets in the red corner and the Americans in the red, white and blue one which pushed us both onwards and upwards to explore above the clouds.
By 1962 America was having its backside paddled by the Soviets in the Space Race and America's official response was to contemplate nuking the moon to stop the Soviets from making a landing on it but fortunately the United States came to the decision that exploding a nuclear bomb on an orbiting planetary body for no particular reason might make them come across as a tad insane so we upped the game of our own space agency and that's how i became the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth, circling it three times.
The Project Mercury recruitment program began with 508 of us which got whittled down to 110 and then 34 before the grueling series of physical and psychological tests to find the right seven people made of the right mental and physical stuff and most crucially stood exactly 5ft 11 inches which was the size you needed to be to fit into the spacecraft seats.
The first unmanned trial exploded seconds after it left the launchpad but the boffins assured us it wouldn't happen next time and i was considering buying some platform shoes to make me 6ft 2inches when i was selected for Mercury-Atlas 6, NASA's first crewed orbital flight.
We didn't explode this time and made it up to Space but during the first orbit the automatic-control system failed and then the telemetry indicated that the heat shield was loose but it held on until we splashed down in the Ocean almost 5 hours later.
I dabbled in politics afterwards and i did return to Space aged 77 to study the effects of space flight on older people and became the the oldest person to fly in space but i was only a small part in a list of people and dogs which culminated with mankind landing on the moon (or making a fake film of it depending upon your standpoint) where we played golf, drove around in a buggy, stuck a flag in the ground and then just kinda forgot all about it because by now it should be swarming with Americans waving flags and shouting 'awesome' while wearing Uncle Sam hats and eating hot-dogs.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Special Guest Blogger: Saint Lidwina

I'm probably not the best advert for Ice Skating so making me the Patron Saint of the Sport which resulted in my death is probably not the best move but there are not many ice skating Saints on the roster so i got the gig.
I suffered a fall while ice skating when a friend shouted at me to watch her do a triple axel but instead of landing gracefully on her feet, she collided with me and caused me to break a rib on the right side which led to an abscess and other illnesses which left me partially paralysed. I spent much of my life in bed, only able to move my left arm which i was told was a gift from God, especially as my hands and feet then started bleeding which become known as Stigmata.  
As if that isn't enough suffering, my flesh began to fall off and even parts of my intestines rotted and fell away but my parents picked them up, threw out the flowers and kept them in a vase on the mantelpiece in our house because why have daffodils when you can have rancid parts of your decaying daughter on show instead.
News of the rotting, bed ridden girl blessed by God with bloody feet and paralysis soon broke and i had people coming to see my decomposing body with one man in England having the water i washed in sent to him to bathe in, hoping it would heal his gammy leg.
Another woman drank my breast milk but i really don't know what that was all about but it was very weird but on those long nights, i would close my eyes and pray, pray that if all this was a gift from God, i hope he doesn't know when my birthday is.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Special Guest Blogger: William Brewster

To be elected Head of a zealously religious bunch who thought celebrating the birth and death of the saviour was not religious enough, it shows how religious i was but then that's why i left the Church of England and teamed up with the Puritans in Scrooby, Nottingham.
As part of the Scrooby Gang, we tried to get things changed in England but they were happy to carry on ignoring the tale of how God had thrown a man and woman he made from her rib out of paradise after being fooled into eating forbidden fruit by a talking snake and then began populating the Earth until the man died aged 930.
Our view was pretty simple, God made the Universe and us humans as we are today six days later and there is no room for evolution and all that science nonsense but amazingly they chose to ignore our warnings so we wanted to live around people like ourselves, and there was a bunch of like-minded folk in the Netherlands so we tried to leave but leaving England without permission was illegal at the time, so on our first attempt we all got arrested but we managed to sneak out on the second attempt and when we got to the Low Country it turned out that i was the highest-ranking layperson of the congregation and made the designated spiritual leader in the New World.
So off we went on the Mayflower, that would be me, my wife Mary and our sons Love Brewster, Wrestling Brewster and our daughters Fear Brewster and Patience Brewster and when we landed at Plymouth i was the top religious guy and set about banning things such as Christmas and cards, dice, fancy clothing and smoking in public.
That first Winter was harsh but lots of praying got us through it, praying and to a small degree the Indians feeding us but mostly praying and we went on to make a country in our own image where a person is free to prosecute anyone with a different religious view or with the ability to reason and think for themselves or is armed with fossils and a handful of dinosaur bones.

Monday, 12 April 2021

Special Guest Blogger: Princess Olga of Kiev

Things were going well for me in 10th century Kiev, i was married to a nice man, Prince Igor, and we lived a nice life or as nice as we could in a time when you had a varied choice of diseases to die from and the latest wonder medical procedure was having your blood drained from your body.
One day Igor went out to collect tribute from the neighboring Drevlians, but instead of paying up they killed him by tying his legs to two bent down birch trees and then letting the trees straighten again and tearing his body apart.
Because our son was too young to take the throne, it was passed to me and the Drevlians saw an opportunity to take over my Kingdom but rather than war, they thought they could use my newfound husband-less situation to marry me off to one of them and unite our Kingdoms with their guy as King over both.
They obviously hunted around for their best guys as potential suitors and sent 20 men to me to chose which one would share the throne so i put on my best smile and welcomed the visitors and told them that my people would carry them in their boats to the castle, so they wouldn't have to walk. And they did but when they got to the castle's courtyard, the carriers dumped the suitors, boat and all, into a giant trench where they were all buried alive.
I then sent a messenger to say i had chosen and to send their top people to help prepare for the wedding which they did and i directed them to a a bathhouse to wash up after their long journey and once inside, i barred the doors and set the whole building on fire.
I sent another messenger with an oops, sorry about that, accidents will happen and all that so you had better send some people to attend the funerals and they sent five thousand mourners who delicately stepped around the smouldering remains of a bathhouse to a wake where i plied them with drink and when they were good and drunk, me and a few hundred of my troops went around and killed them all.
The Drevlians by now were starting to think something was amiss when none of the thousands guys they sent my way ever returned and noticing thousands of freshly dug graves sent a WTF message which i replied with my own message of OK, its a fair cop i have been whacking your guys but as a a gesture of peace, if you send three pigeons from each Drevlian household then all would be cool between us.
As they were running out of men for their army, they agreed and delivered the birds and later that night i had fabric covered in sulfur attached to all the birds’ legs and lit them, letting them fly back to their home nests and burning the whole city to the ground and as a nice touch, i stationed my army around the city to kill anybody who passed us trying to flee the fire.
I then took over their land and doubled the taxes of the those remaining alive so forget about revenge being a dish best served cold, i always prefered the hot, complex, and very, very bloody type.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Special Guest Blogger: Prince Philip

Life is fleeting, and a percentage of the people reading this will die before they reach the end of this post but then other people go on living. In fact, they stay alive so long, it's scary and us Royals do tend to live long and healthy lives, much to my son Charles disappointment, but i know the Royal secret to living to a fair old age, do very little.
We wave at the plebs lining the streets every now and then, travel First Class to far flung parts of the World and remember to feed the corgi's while having our every whim seen to by an army of lackeys, but that's it.  
My nickname was Phil The Greek but i may have been born on Corfu into Greece’s royal family, yet i was as Greek as a Cornish pasty as we were actually a mix of Dane, Russian and German, our family name was Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gl├╝cksburgs.
As the Royal marriage pool is very shallow, Lizzie and i were third cousins and we actually first met when she was 13 and came to Dartmouth College where i was studying to have a bit of a nose around and then we met up again a few years later at a family get together and that shallow marriage pool really played to my favour as i proposed to her.
The British were initially not keen on me, the war was just over and my German heritage and two of my sisters being married to a couple of Nazi's didn't play that well but i took British citizenship, dropped the ridiculous Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gl├╝cksburgs name in favour of Mountbatten and settled in for a decent couple of fun filled decades before the wife took the throne but George VI inconveniently died soon after and so began a career of me walking behind the now Queen looking grumpy as her consort despite going all around the World and showing how grateful i was for their generous welcome by insulting them.
I said China was ghastly and told British students there they will get slitty eyes if they stay there too long, said the people in Papau New Guinea were cannibals, called Hungarians pot bellied, said Canada was boring, Kenyan women looked like men, Caymen Islanders were all descended from Pirates, the French couldn't cook and the Australian aborigines were spear chuckers but what were they going to do about it? Sack me?
I may have had a face like a pug-dog chewing a bee but i will miss Britain now i'm no longer in the land of the living, not all of it obviously, there are some cities in it even i couldn't do down by insulting it, but i am now up here looking forward to see if Meghan turns up at my funeral although i did rush as quickly as i could through the pearly gates, they looked so unsafe they could only have been put up by an Indian.

Friday, 9 April 2021

99 And Out

On the news that Prince Philip had died, the first thoughts of many of his British subjects was, do we get a day off then?
Apparently we don't, that's only for when the Queen's clogs are popped but tributes have been made for the the man whose claim to fame was being married to the Queen and who died aged 99 and just months before he was due to get the 100th birthday letter from his wife.
As the Royal marriage pool is very shallow, the Queen and Philip actually met at a family get together, they were third cousins, but once all the gushing about what a great person he was who served his country so admirably has died down, the darker side of him will be what he is most remembered for, the asking an Aborigine if they still threw spears at each other, telling British students in China that if they stayed there much longer they will get slitty eyes and saying that his Palaces wiring was so bad it was probably put in by an Indian, those sort of things.   
The Royals do tend to live long and healthy lives, much to Prince Charles disappointment, but i know the Royal secret to living to a fair old age, actually do very little.
That's the Royals secret. They do nothing whatsoever. Wave at the plebs lining the streets every now and then and remember to feed the corgi's while having your every whim seen to by an army of lackeys, but that's it.
The big question is whether Meghan will turn up with Harry for the funeral after what she said about the Royals because that could make for a very awkward few moments at the funeral but we won't know because we will all be working that day.

Special Guest Blogger: Syd Barrett

Rock stars are meant to be a bit weird and out there and it's not just part of the act either because the best tunes comes from brains which are broken and that can be through drinking, snorting or inhaling all sorts of interesting things or as in my case, popping LSD tablets like smarties.
I was the original singer and guitarist for Pink Floyd and we were The Abdabs, The Screaming Abdabs, Sigma 6, T-Set, The Meggadeaths and the Pink Floyd Sound before we settled on that name when we went to record our debut Album.
It was me who wrote all the early songs and guided the band through the experimental stage in the 1960s which is no mean feat as i was living through a fog of acid in which i existed which got heavier and heavier until i was barely able to function.
There would be times when 6.30pm became 11.30pm without me noticing and sometimes that was on stage where i would stand perfectly still either just staring into space or repeatedly striking the same chord on my guitar for the entire performance so the band hired another guitarist, Dave Gilmour, to play my bits when i was too out of my mind to perform, which tended to be most of the time.
Since i had written all their songs up to that point, the band was reluctant to give me the boot entirely and tried to keep me around but eventually they just sacked me but i wasn't the type to sit at home sulking, i instead did that from the front row of their concerts and just stood there staring evils at them.
I did try and make a solo album but that turned out as well as can expected from a man out of his face on LSD and i went to live with my parents in Cambridge until i died of cancer but when the history book of music is written it will show that i was the force behind one of the biggest bands in the 70's and although i may not remember it, i'd been there and i knew what the rock n roll lifestyle was and believe me, it's far better to have lived and lost it than to listen to a whole album by bloody Olivia Newton-John.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Special Guest Blogger: Squanto

The White man was coming to our lands long before the Mayflower gang turned up and ruined everything. They would trade with us and the fishermen from northern France and southern England had been coming over every spring to fish for cod and take it back to Europe and then one day European explorers arrived and one of them, Captain George Weymouth, came searching for gold but when he didn't find any, decided that capturing a bunch of us native American Indians instead was just as good and kidnapped us and took us back to England.
I spent a decade in that cold, rainy island where it is dark for 6 months of the year until we were taken to Spain to be sold but a group of local priests took me in and sent me back to England and from there i went back to North America to find that my tribe had been wiped out by smallpox courtesy of the Europeans, thanks guys.
I went to live with the Wampanoag tribe and then the Pilgrims turned up and after a discussion of whether to attack or help them, i persuaded the tribe chief that these guys were not the brightest, one of them had bought 129 pairs of shoes instead of food or seeds and we could be on a nice little earner so as i had picked up the English language during my time over there, i was sent to negotiate with them.
Being not that bright as expected, they were all slowly dying of starvation so i taught them how to plant corn, catch fish, eat wild plants, and other ways to survive and most of them did live and we had a nice little thing going and until even more of them turned up and began encroaching onto our land and stealing our corn.
The Wampanoag's said i was favouring them and when the Indians began pushing back the Pilgrims blamed me for not stopping them so i said right, you stop nicking their land and you stop threatening to scalp them but i am not sure how that turned out because i died straight afterwards after eating some suspiciously weird tasting fish but i am sure that they made up and the Indians and the settlers now live together in peace and harmony because the Christian religion is all about love and peace so how bad can a nation created by religious fanatics be to each other?