Know Your History…

Know Your History…

Terror visited the streets of Westminster, the hallowed seat of British power, on March 22nd 2017! This attack however disgusting and barbaric is not a first for the Palace of Westminster, I’m thinking of the gun powder plot and the Blitz. Despite this type of attack being nothing new, past attacks like those this week show threats to democracy will always fail. The whisper of truth is always more powerful than the shouting of lies and yet the old phrase that the lie is half way around the world before the truth has its boots on, is still on my mind.

This past week in the U.K. there was the attack on Westminster but also there was the funeral of Martin McGuinness. He was a former IRA member and a former deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, he was in a word- complicated. Much like the ‘Troubles’ that he participated in directly and the new world that he helped build in the North of Ireland. When you have someone like Norman Tebbit, giving his tuppence worth to any media outlet who will listen, calling McGuinness ” a coward who never atoned for his crimes”. I’m left wondering if people like Tebbit are the reason the past is never laid to rest, why the world keeps allowing the same mistakes over and over again. Tebbit wishes McGuinness “an eternity in hell”, no doubt because an IRA bomb paralysed his wife, a torment for her but nothing less than plain old revenge for him.

Whereas surely Martin McGuiness’ life teaches much more about the possibilities of life, rather than it’s horrors! I don’t discount or forget what the IRA did during and after the Troubles, your past isn’t forgiven because you turn your back on violence. McGuinness didn’t ask for forgiveness; but he did do something that until he made the choice was impossible- the removal of the gun from the politics of Northern Ireland. Norman (get on your bike) Tebbit, is a Tory- to the rest of the world that means a person who believes that greed is good, if you’re poor it’s because you don’t work hard enough and in Tebbit’s case forgiveness is a sign of weakness!

The reporting on the BBC this week about the death of Martin McGuinness, was both enlightening and infuriating. Firstly his death demonstrated just how far the North really has come from the Good Friday Peace of 1998! If Ian Paisley, a man who symbolised the Unionist position could shake his hand, share a joke and an office and his wife could say about Martin; “you don’t know what god used on Martin McGuinness, but he did change”! Then that’s the ultimate sign of changed times, it wasn’t quite the damascene conversion that Lady Paisley envisioned but the DUP leader Arlene Foster turning up at his funeral in Free Derry and receiving a round of applause! 20 years ago in Derry you wouldn’t have heard applause, only gunfire!

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Martin McGuinness’ Funeral

Having visited Derry and Belfast a couple of years ago, it’s fair to say that on the ground things have changed, Stuarty and I stayed in once the most bombed hotel in Europe, the Europa. A very fine establishment, across from an even better pub! However we did go to Derry, we had a lovely lunch and then visited the Free Derry Bloody Sunday museum! Without going on full rant, it is museum based on the terrible events of a civil rights march in January 1972, whereby catholic citizens of Derry were protesting the gerrymandering of the political process, by unionists. It’s not called Bloody Sunday because it was day of traffic disruption, it was so-called because British Paratroopers opened fire on the marchers and killed 14 of them!

For years the British government stonewalled everybody, stating that the IRA opened fire on the ‘Brits’ first and that some of those shot were brandishing weapons. Only now more than 40 years later do we have it confirmed, what many long suspected, that these people were complete innocents. And that the British Army committed nothing more or less than murder on the streets of Derry that day. Now this is the setting of McGuinness’ life! When viewed from that perspective, his willingness to shake hands with members of the British Establishment and to join with the unionists for the sake of peace, seems extraordinary. No more extraordinary than the unionists agreeing to power share with a former IRA man. For nobody with any power in Northern Ireland, doesn’t have blood on their hands. McGuinness teaches a valuable lesson, that any progress requires both sides to set aside prejudices and notions of revenge for a better future.

People like that nutcase who killed people in Westminster, will never win, never see their way come to pass, because it takes courage to forgive! It doesn’t mean you forget, it doesn’t mean that everybody agrees; all it means it that there has to be something better than an eye for eye- it only serves to make the whole world blind! Martin McGuinness showed he was the master of his own fate, men like Tebbit will be weighed down by their hate and those so-called soldiers of Islam can never achieve their aims. McGuinness was not a perfect man, he never claimed to be, but his life and indeed his death shows, that even the most complicated of people can in the end provide the simplest of examples! So that even in these times were the Northern Irish Assembly is in turmoil, people are still talking and trying to reach a compromise and they’re not reaching for bombs and guns.

So in closing this past week has shown the complexity of human beings; in their capacity for cruelty and their capacity to care! To me in these times of Trump and Brexit, it makes me think there are more good people than bad, more positive forces than negative and more reason and sense than prejudice and hate. It’s just that they shout the loudest, it doesn’t however make it true!

N.B. I do not own these images- Fair Useage and All that Jazz…

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Candles on Westminster Bridge

An ARC from your nightmares- if Dark Water is anything to go by!!

An ARC from your nightmares- if Dark Water is anything to go by!!

There are occasions that life throws you some scary ass pleasure- no dear friends I’m not talking 50 shades style! Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster novels are such scary ass pleasures that I have on occasion dreamed about them! I also picked the lovely protagonist’s name for new baby born in August! Getting an ARC of Last Breath is like Christmas come early!!! Stay posted for the review and I’ll post the review of Dark Water!!! It’s chilling…

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Indyref2 the joys!

Indyref2 the joys!

For those people not in the know the above references the calling of second Scottish Independence Referendum. For the record I’m a nationalist, I want Scotland to return to its natural state; an independent country! However I feel like I’ve not been away from the polling booth in the past few years; two national elections, two referendums, the local elections coming in May and now the prospect of another Referendum in the next 18 months. Oh the joys of democracy, the worst form of Government- except for all the others!

So here we are, 12 hours in and already the keyboard warriors are out in force! I am sure that whilst I will have more than enough to say on the matter as the weeks and months pass, I really wish that people would just remember what vitriol and division can do. The murder of Jo Cox before the Brexit Ref last June, shows that despite the majority of people being well meaning; there are those people who will use these huge national debates for their own twisted ends. For the sake of us all in this beautiful country we call home; I hope it ends well and of course Independence for Scotland prevails.

Before The Dawn: NetGalley ARC Review

Before The Dawn: NetGalley ARC Review

Before The Dawn by Jake Woodhouse. ARC recieved for fair review!

Before The Dawn is a great read!!!! Now normally I read the blurb of a book and the decide yeah I like the sound of that I’ll give it a go. But 4/5 don’t live up to that initial promise. But Before The Dawn more than did I’m please to say, the crimes themselves are chilling and Jaap’s investigative style is a pleasant change from the usual tortured alcoholic policeman! There is one complaint I have- it’s not really a complaint though because it’s a delayed pleasure at least for me- this is the 3rd book in a quartet! Therefore the issues of the past that continue to trouble Jaap and his girlfriend Tanya make for a slightly frustrating read- you began to feel that reading the first two would make this a much smoother read.

The only real criticism of this book is the volume of characters introduced- it is slightly overwhelming at points and meant I couldn’t read this when I was tired! As the reader you’re not certain if these characters are important and therefore need to be remembered or if they are incidental and therefore can be case aside! That said the story is really good and being set in the Netherlands really makes for a fresh change- not the moody and twisted scandy noir or the addict ridden divorcee policeman of Britain. It’s a really well written book and although I couldn’t testify to this, it seems to be well researched, as far as the Netherlands and that society!

So this book was enjoyable, the story was really engaging and kept me reading longer than I should have! It’s not five stars only because it seems to need the reader to have read the previous two books in the series- I therefore believe that if the last book in the quartet is as good as this- and of course bearing in mind I haven’t read the first two, this series could be a five star quartet! The writing is top class and Woodhouse really knows his audience, in that he knows just how to pace the story without making you feel it’s too slow and you want to give up or that it’s too fast and therefore lacking in depth! That is a talent because the genre of crime fiction is overloaded with poorly paced books with excellent stories!!

Now I’m off to buy the first two in the series and I wait very impatiently for the last in the series to see how it turns out for Jaap and Tanya!

Distress Signals Review

Distress Signals Review

(NetGalley arc for fair review)
So this book was one that I debated internally over- was it good enough for five star or was it an excellent four star book! So the test for me is time! Two weeks pasted and I then went back and re-read and it is an excellent five star book for certain! For anybody who has been on a cruise this book brings to life the almost claustrophobic atmosphere amongst the high-jinks of holiday fun and never before had I thought of how perfect a location it is to dispose of a body! This book is brilliant in the way in introduces stories and characters that beautifully and seemlessly fit together! It’s really well written and plotted- it’s so tightly woven that the twist is something you really don’t see coming! I really wish more thrillers/mysteries were of this quality and originality, though it has sadly put me well and truly off cruising!!!

Manipulator or Victim?

It is a well known fact to most people I know that Sexual Assault and Rape are amongst the few things I find the most disgusting about humanity. Rapists are individuals who believe themselves above the rules of other mere mortals. They are a dealt with accordingly in the press, courts and society i.e. they are scorned, shunned and ostracised and should NEVER be allowed to forgot their deeds. There is no rehabilitation for these people because they cannot change what they are. But equally I pour scorn on the those individuals that falsely accuse or manipulate themselves into being seen as the victim. So as it happens this week in the news there is the case of Labour MP for Rochdale; Simon Danczuk.

simon-danczukThis man in the picture is a divorcee, a campaigner against child sexual grooming and pedophilia. He also happens to like females with ample chesticles. Which according to most of the male species is not illegal or abnormal, just slightly sad and pathetic. Nevertheless this man has been outed as having swapped SEXTs with a 17 year old girl who ‘was looking for a job with him’. Now the inverted commas are for a reason, who approaches a prospective employer cleavage first?? The answer is nobody!! Why? Because it gives off the impression you wish to be objectified and viewed sexually. Now i’m all for females being free to express themselves however they choose, but to pretend that taking a self-portrait in such a coy fashion is anything other than titilation is plainly a con.

Sophena-Houlihan.jpgSophena Houlihan is the young lady in question, 17 years old (Age of Consent in the United Kingdom is 16 years of age) and clearly very aware of how much attention her ample cleavage would garner her. For her to engage in back and forth text messaging with the 49 year old MP is a manipulation of the facts. And in my opinion she should be ashamed of herself.
To claim shock at the messages she received is a ridiculous notion, she is replying in full awareness of his response to her and I would even suggest she is goading him to write even more explicit things. This was the grand design of a 17 year old unemployed girl, with no idea of how to behave and even less care for the man she was going to destroy. But here are a select few of the messages as published in the Daily Mail UK newspaper-

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Simon Danczuk

The whole episode screams set up either by Labour Party cronies that don’t like Mr Danczuk’s less that supportive comments about the new lefty leader Corbyn or by this horror of a teenage girl who thinks notoriety is the same as celebrity. No doubt she got a nice big fat cheque to go with the shock she felt at the exchange of texts.

imagesBut that holier than thou look on her face as holds up the phone and the inference in the headline that Mr Danczuk has done something almost illegal is clear. She is 17, past the age of consent and clearly sexually self-aware. The MP although his judgement is questionable and bordering on the gross, he has committed no crime. One of his less than helpful constituents asked the Greater Manchester Police to investigate and they were quick to point out that Mr Danczuk had committed no crime.

In fact the only crime here is a moral one, the old fool that is the MP and the little madam who snared him in a trap for her five minutes of fame. Females such as this make me sick and in fact make real victims subject to abuse of doubters and defence barristers. She deserves a kick up the backside and the MP needs to revaluate his priorities. Otherwise its a witch hunt of a man who doesn’t support his party leader and a tit of a girl who thinks that notoriety is preferable to a normal decent existence. In my humble opinion the press have once again got it all wrong and Simon Danczuk MP is the victim and Sophena Houlihan is the perverse manipulator.

Right to Free Speech or the Right to be Offended?

So in the last week two news items have got me bothered and had me in debate with people over the right to say what we please against the right to be offended. Firstly this isn’t really the question! It’s like the abortion debate: Right to Choose or Right to Life- let me declare right now I’m in the first camp firmly!! But that debate much like the free speech/ offence debate is not actually framed correctly. The right for woman to decide what happens with her body is not anti-life, the pro-lifers are simply ANTI-CHOICE. The right to free speech is essential in all healthy societies as is the right to be offended, what is not correct is to say you have the right not to be offended by someones views.

First the British Boxer Tyson Fury opens his mouth to the press expressing some of the most backwards opinions in recent memoryUnknown (Donald Trump excluded but I’ll come to him). Any person expressing opinions that include- “I’m not sexist. I believe a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back. That’s my personal belief. Making me a good cup of tea, that’s what I believe.” And “There are only three things that need to be accomplished before the devil comes home: one of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other one’s pedophilia”. In the great scheme of things those comments are no more offensive than usual nonsense that prejudice and ignorance unleashes.

The problem occurs when tax payers money (mine being one) is being used to provide a platform for this fool. BBC Sports Personality of the Year is not just about sporting excellence it’s about the person too i.e. the Personality part. Something which Mr Fury could spend time working on in my opinion. He should’t be on the ballot, his remarks show him to lack the vital assets that make someone a role model for our country. His views on women and homosexuals are backwards but he claims they are only for his woman and his Traveller Culture. Well that may be but not so long ago it was the culture in South Africa to deny the vote and other basic human rights to the black majority. Thankfully South Africa moved forward, there are still some who haven’t but as Darwin put it ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’. The same applies in this case, he can keep his views and shout them out loud, doesn’t mean that the rest of society has to accept or accommodate them.

The BBC should dump this man in favour of someone more deserving, but either way the man is getting no more of my attention. Moving swiftly on to the moron that is Donald Trump.images All I can say is thank god his family moved to the U.S.A because otherwise we in Scotland might have had to deal with him. That said his recent remarks about a shut down of muslims entering the U.S.A is completely unworkable. Does the man not realise that Islam is a religion and not a race. Not all followers are identifiable on first glance so what is he suggesting- at immigration stations- passport please and declaration of religion. Bizarre in the extreme. The man must have been ignored as child to be so attention seeking now. Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals and women pigs- he’s really wooing the voting public! If he gets the republican nomination they can kiss goodbye to another four years, because he’s offending everyone in the home of the brave and land of the free (except women, mexican’s and muslim’s of course they’re free under certain conditions in his book!)

Also feel I need to point out a couple of parallels between Trump and Hitler; divisive rhetoric, mega dodgy hairstyle and his views on muslims are akin to Hitler’s views on jews. Is this man really the best the Republican Party can offer? Do people actually want to live in a country where he would be President? I’m grateful to live in this country where Trump is not an immediate danger and yet can we imagine a world were he has access to nuclear weapons. Personally I think the American people of all races and creeds are smart and will eventually see past this man and his bluster and see him for the wig-wearing fool he is.

I close with Voltaire he said it best and it remains the cornerstone of humanity today- ‘I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’! The right to be offended is as important as the right to Free Speech however, the right to not be offended should never even be contemplated!!