Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (6)

Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (6)

KathyBy Kathy Martin…

Further rambles written by Alistair for initially the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum

Written January 2014

Spotted a couple of articles recently in the UK newspapers, both were about defence this is a matter that Britain appears to be both paranoid and over-concerned about.

Russian warship

Russian warship

The first was an article that stated that a (yes, only one!) Russian warship had dropped anchor somewhere out at sea off the Scottish coast. This caused major panic in the nuclear bomb-proof bunkers under Whitehall!

 “Is this the start of World War Three?”

What can we do about this?”

Will I have to cancel my afternoon game of golf?”

The Lord High Admiral, Sir Totally-Incompetent, was asked “can we send the navy to force this scurrilous Ivan back to where he belongs”?

He replied “Well, Prime Minister, there is a lightly armed and armoured canoe in Portsmouth that could get there in about a week, maybe only three days if we put two oarsmen on board.”

And this was done!

If the Russians were there to test the response time they certainly got it! Surely a more intelligent response would have been to wait for a few hours then “leak” a radio message in an (almost) unbreakable code; “the stealth technology on HMS Sneaky is working, she is 10 miles of their starboard bow and hasn’t been spotted yet”! Assuming the Russian warships intentions were hostile; this would have caused some concern, even if only for a short time!

The other article about defence was about an American politician stating that with Britain’s defence cuts, it could no longer be regarded as a “full military partner of the United States”.  How did the British Prime Minister respond to this? “Britain is the world’s fourth largest military spender after the United States, China and Russia.”

Why? Is Britain a large country?

Yes, but only if the comparisons are Monaco, Luxemburg and San Marino!

Does Britain have a large empire or commonwealth to protect?

Well, it has the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar and….er …um… did I mention the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar?

Oh, yes, I did, so no, she doesn’t have an empire anymore!

Does Britain have any mineral or natural resources or anything that would attract an invader? North Sea gas (a finite substance) is close to running out, and the “hostile” Russia mentioned above is already exporting vast quantities of gas to Europe, so no, Britain has nothing to attract an invader.

What the British taxpayers must ask themselves, or preferably their local members of parliament, is why so much of their money is being spent on defence? This is at a time of austerity and there are a number of cost-cutting exercises on the domestic scene.

There are already cuts in benefit payments, as well as others planned for the future. When the income of a family on benefit is compared to one on the minimum or low wages, I believe, that these cuts are justifiable.

However, leaving aside the bloated and inefficient management, there are life-threatening cutbacks and “downsizing” in the National Health Service (NHS) that seriously affect the health and wellbeing of the British tax-paying public.

Why should Britain’s ability to kill someone in “some foreign field” take precedence over prompt and efficient medical treatment in Britain?

road safetyRegular readers will know that road safety and our appallingly high number of road accident deaths are subjects that I “love to hate”!

During the evening of Monday 20th January 2014, three people were killed and one other hospitalized in a life-threatening condition, after an horrific road traffic accident.

This shocking event followed the death of a motorcyclist, who wasn’t to blame, but he wasn’t wearing a crash helmet, on Friday, and preceded the death of another person who was involved in a head-on collision with a taxi on Tuesday.

So, even before the first month of the “new” year is out, the weekly average road toll death rate is already one a week and may well rise between the writing of this article and publication! Despite mutterings from some quarters, here, the government is not to blame, this lies fairly and squarely on drivers who have two things:–

  • a one-mile-an-hour brain
  • a hundred-mile-an-hour car!

There have already been the usual cries that driving tests must be stricter. Yes, .this is a laudable idea, but it won’t address the problem, certainly not in the short term. The elements and requirements of a driving test are purely physical – eyesight, hearing and manual dexterity. All that a person needs to pass a driving test is to show an examiner the ability to successfully manoeuvre a rather large tin box, at a fairly low speed for a comparatively short time.

What is needed here, although I don’t think that it is practised anywhere in the world, is a mental Check! I don’t mean an intelligence test, such as the ability to calculate the value of pi to 999 decimal places in less than two seconds, no, a mental attitude (anger management), check!

The other day we (along with a couple of other “innocent” cars) were very nearly involved in a “road rage” accident! We wanted to take the Çatalköy exit from the “freedom” roundabout in Girne, but the police were in the process of closing it as it seemed that a JCB had accidently severed a water main. We, and the two cars in front of us, were moving to the left hand side of the road to go down towards the harbour, when, with horn continuously blaring, a car flashed past us on the inside lane, the driver had one hand on the rim of the steering wheel and the other firmly place on the centre of it!

That, gentle readers, was a very scary moment for the drivers and passengers of three cars!

Until such impatience, no, arrogance, pure and unadulterated arrogance, can be eliminated or at least controlled; driving here will continue to be a “blood sport”!

Severe road traffic accident

Severe road traffic accident

There is another possibility, allow a film crew to accompany police and emergency vehicles when they respond to serious accident calls. There, they could record both visually and audibly the sight of blood, mutilated and distorted limbs and the cries of the victims to whichever God they believe in, or to their loved ones. As a policeman in Rhodesia, I had to attend only a very few (fortunately) severe road traffic accidents, but the images are long lasting!

If films such as the above were shown to every learner-driver, before every lesson, as well as the actual driving test, perhaps a few lives would be saved. To target existing drivers perhaps these films could be shown to them, before they were able to renew their current year’s road tax?

Before leaving this subject; police road checks. When we first came here a number of years ago, police road checks on the Çatalköy-Girne road seemed to be carried out at least once a week. Nowadays they are extremely rare, almost down to once or twice a year! Admittedly not every vehicle (and therefore driver) was stopped and checked. However, their existence, or even the possibility of their existence, must have had some restraining influence on drivers with incorrect documentation or vehicles that aren’t roadworthy.

Here is a random, revolutionary and radical idea! Stop, indeed ban, the requirement for vehicle insurance! But, make each and every driver very aware that they are solely liable for vehicle repair costs, medical (or funeral) expenses in the event of a single vehicle accident. Or, if they are responsible for a multiple vehicle accident, the costs of all vehicles and people involved in such an accident!

Would this make drivers drive with extreme care and attention? Look at it this way, if a person goes hiking in thick thorn scrub country dressed in stout boots and clothing, they are protected (insured). However, someone else travels the same route with bare feet and dressed in a T‑shirt and shorts, their progress will be made very slowly and with extreme care and attention! Well, on my planet (total population one!), it would work!

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

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