March 30th, 2023
The fact that it is nearly two years since I wrote a blog (remember them??) reflects just how much social media has become the main form of communication for so many people, these days. From a personal point of view, I believe Myspace was probably my first introduction to it; and, subsequently, it was succeeded by Facebook; but I haven't been attracted by the likes of WhatsApp or Tiktok. Putting that aside, however, the reason I've chosen to use a blog, on this occasion, is because I want to separate what I have say from any other comments which may have been made in the aforementioned social media channels, recently.
So, here goes.
I have always felt great pride in being someone who attended the very first meeting of the BNTVA, in a Glasgow hotel with Ken McGinley; although I cannot deny that I probably haven't contributed towards the BNTVA as, perhaps, I could have done. That said, although I attended early meetings of the association in Blackpool and Leicester in the eighties, a combination of work commitments and (I have to admit) a personal suspicion that member's subscriptions may have been used to finance jollies by committee members meant that my interest waned, almost to the point of extinction for a good many years. However, as I've described in an earlier blog, I was re-introduced to the association around the time the (so-called) "special advisor" was chairman; and in the meantime, I've maintained a more active interest and actually became a member, again, last year.
Sadly, however, even before the regrettable circumstances which persuaded Ken McGinley to write his letter demanding that certain trustees should be removed (and why), on a personal level, I had developed serious reservations about the usefulness of what I would describe as vanity projects, for example, which, IMHO, were diverting funds away from their intended destination; i.e. the needs of the members. So, recognising it won't make a jot of difference to what others might think or do, I don't intend to renew my subscription, this year, and I would would advise any others who feel dissatisfied with the current trustees to consider doing the same.
Although I attended the inaugural meeting of the BNTVA in 1983; for a variety of reasons, I had never felt committed enough to become a fully paid-up member of the association until Shelly contacted me, twenty or thirty years later, to ask if my elder son would consider becoming a patron of the Fallout Group. As it happened, he had married an American girl and had settled in the USA, so didn't feel he could contribute as much as he might have hoped had he still been living in the UK and he regretfully declined. Paradoxically, however, it re-connected me with the association and I was invited to a couple of BNTVA functions when Derek Heaps MBE was chairman;. but it's only for the past year or so (thanks to Facebook and the need to self-isolate) that I've started to take an active interest in the association.
In the meantime, it didn't take me long to realise that much had changed since 1983; and, in particular, it was becoming apparent that some quite serious differences were developing between trustees of the BNTVA. Although, in that respect, I have to admit that I wasn't sufficiently familiar with those who might be involved to be able to form an opinion; let alone decide which side of the fence to occupy. Conveniently, however, sometime last year (I wasn't interested enough to remember exactly when), my attention was caught by a short series of melodramatic Facebook posts made by ladies closely associated with Alan Owen which suggested that he had been compelled to resign as chairman of the BNTVA because of ''something'' which the trustee who replaced him had said to him.
Since then, it has been obvious that many members have 'taken sides' in the debate; and in this respect, it's also obvious that Alan enjoys considerable support. So, whilst I have never had anything but a cordial relationship with him, I have to say that it seems almost incontrovertible that he must have been spending an inordinate amount of time preparing for the introduction of his LABRATS organisation; which begs the question of whether, or not, he could be accused of being disloyal to the BNTVA whist still holding office in the association.
For my part, some might say, I'm not entitled to an opinion because I'm not a member of the association; but, as Groucho Marx said (something like) ''I'm not sure I want to a member of any association which would accept me as a member.'' So I will depart quietly. Bye.
BNTVA: IS IT FRAGMENTING?
For some time now, I have been concerned with the growing number of what have become, in effect, spin-off Facebook pages from the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association. For example, a couple of mornings ago, the first four posts I viewed were absolutely identical; but under the guise of four different user-names. Now, seriously, what is the point of that; bearing in mind, as used to be the case in the increasingly distant past, pretty well every post or comment appeared (as they should do, IMHO) in the official page of the association? Furthermore, apart from Fallout whose aims and ambitions are obvious and necessary, I can't help wondering what motives have prompted others who have created these pages to do so; and at the risk of ruffling a few feathers, I also can't help wondering how many of them have given sufficient consideration to the effect their actions are having.
I don't expect it to become headline news (and it isn't); but some of the more observant in the on-line nuclear community may have noticed that I resigned from however many FB pages there are right now (too many IMHO); and, within twenty-four hours, rejoined them all again. Accordingly, perhaps an explanation might be appropriate; and here it is..........
Putting aside my belief that there are far too many FB pages than are necessary; (two or three are quite enough - providing an option of two for veterans and one for descendants), the issue which finally persuaded me to leave was a growing belief that many of the posts in recent times would be more at home in the glossy pages of women's weekly magazines or in the Letter Pages of certain Sunday newspapers. Put in simple terms, there are far too many of what I understand are known as motivational posts; which, by the way, are certainly not written or composed by the FB members; but mass-produced by the aforementioned publishers and, more importantly, entirely unnecessary and inappropriate for FB pages intended (primarily) for miltary veterans.
A further factor which has caused me concern is my impression that many of these posts are sometimes becoming personal; thus contributing (often deliberately IMHO) towards the worrying divisions which are developing amongst some of those associated with the British nuclear test communities. Those responsible should ask themselves what they are hoping to achieve and whether those objectives are in the best interests of veterans and their descendants.
Finally, I fully understand that some of those who contribute these sort of comments are actually also FB Friends of myself. Indeed, it was the realisattion of this paradox which persuaded me to rejoin the pages (if you can't beat them, join them - as they used to say). So, if my remarks have offended anyone, I suggest they refer to the producers of the motivational stuff to which I have referred; and seek comfort and inspiration from their messages. Good Luck.
People should not be surprised that MPs have completely ignored the wishes of their constituents by advancing their own personal points of view; which, by the way, are completely at odds with the result of the 2016 EU referendum. Sadly, this isn't the first time they have behaved in this fashion. For example, I'm old enough to remember when parliament voted to abolish capital punishment at a time when the vast majority of the general public disagreed with their decision. Similarly, Tony Bliar and his crooked cronies took the country into an illegal war despite massive public demonstrations against it. It seems that members of parliament think that they are always right and their constituents are wrong. I hope voters will closely examine the voting record of their prospective candidates if and when the next g; despite what their constituents might thinkeneral election is called. #brexit
Despite being disappointed and rather surprised by the refusal of some of my Facebook 'friends' to accept the result of the EU referendum, I am far less surprised by the current behaviour of MPs.
In saying that, I should explain that my own decision to support the vote to leave was significantly influenced by the fact that I found it much easier to believe the opinions of prominent business leaders and entrepreneurs than those of the majority of MPs (on both sides of the argument).
So, turning to today's extraordinary circumstances, it is of absolutely no surprise to me that the prospect of ''parliament taking control'' has been achieved; because, despite their repeated, disgraceful, and disingenuous so-called determination to ''honour the wishes of the Great British public'', the plain and simple fact of the matter is that MPs have never accepted the result of the referendum and, instead, have ignored the wishes of their constituents by surreptitiously creating a situation where they have stolen the initiative from the public in order to establish their own personal agendas.
Shame on them.
About 15 years ago, I managed to track down the five surviving men (we were boys really) with whom I shared a tent for a year during the British nuclear tests at Christmas Island, in the fifties. In the meantime, despite the effects ageing and declining health, we've had a couple of reunions; and, to help us celebrate those occasions, The London Eye and The London DUKW Tour Company were both extremely generous in giving us complimentary tickets.
Later this year, the 60th. anniversary of the final nuclear test at Christmas Island will occur in September; and I have been wondering about how (and if) I could arrange what could well be the last reunion for our little group; and, at the same time, celebrate what will be an extremely special occasion.
In making those preparations, in an attempt to make the reunion truly memorable, I contacted The Shard Quarter (as they like to be known) to enquire if they would consider matching the charitable example set by the aforementioned London attractions and offer what will most likely be fewer than a handful of elderly veterans complimentary access to their facility.
Sadly, they declined.
Like most people of my generation (born prior to WW2), I was raised in a relatively religious environment; Sunday school as a child, church choir, church wedding, church babtisms, and so on. However, as time passed by, it has seemed to me that more and more of the world's conflicts are being fought in the name of one religion, or another. So, as a comparative ''outsider'', nowadays, could anyone explain to me the logic in the expression, ''Happy Easter''? OK, I realise he was supposed to ''rise again'' after a couple of days; but, IMHO, there's very little to be happy about the demise of Jesus Christ and the manner in which it was conducted. #justsaying
In the sixties and seventies, possibly encouraged by a delusional impression that they won the Second World War almost single-handedly, many Americans (usually tourists) often gave the impression to other nations that the USA was a country of big-headed, load-mouthed, boors.
As time passed, however, probably because international travel became more readily available to less-wealthy (but better-educated) citizens; and influenced, perhaps, by a post 9/11 realisation that they were not quite as popular as they may have imagined, there were (IMHO) encouraging signs that the national psyche might be becoming more mature.
Obviously, this is a personal opinion; but, it seems to me that policies and principles (or lack of them) espoused by the current POTUS are quite deliberately designed to appeal to the elements described in the opening paragraph of this Blog; and I wonder if I'm alone in finding that rather alarming.