Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (17)
By Kathy Martin…
Written April 2014
Recently my wife and I, along with other contributors to “Kibkom Times”, enjoyed an evening meal in a restaurant with the “boss, proprietor, and editor-in chief” Soner Kioufi.
We knew that there were road works in the area and as such access and parking may have been difficult. Therefore, we opted to take a taxi to our destination.
In Kibris, the rules of the road require, or judging from the actions of most drivers, probably only politely and timidly suggests that drivers really ought to drive on the left!
Our taxi driver never crossed over the central white line, but this was only because his taxi was a left-hand drive vehicle. I, in the front passenger seat on the right hand-side, spent most of the journey on the right (or wrong?) side of the central white line! Only in response to the angry tooting and flashing of lights of on-coming cars would our driver temporarily move his entire vehicle so that it was completely on the left! The journey cost TL15, which, compared with the cost of an ECG to check if my heart pumped blood efficiently, was quite cheap!
A couple of articles in the British press caught my eye. The first was an article by an RAF Leading Aircraftsman (or was it Wing Commander Bigglesworth, not real name! Retd) that Britain wasn’t “doing anything” to search for the missing Malaysian aircraft and implied that this was a “bad thing”!
- Firstly, does Britain have the technology or expertise that is superior to the nations that are currently involved?
- Secondly, why should Britain be involved in a very minor (admittedly somewhat mysterious) occurrence half way round the globe?
The writer may have an old atlas, but two thirds of the earth’s land mass is no longer covered in the pink colour of the British Empire and Commonwealth!
There was also an article by Max Hastings, in the Daily Mail, bemoaning the fact that the EU and NATO do not have the military or political might to prevent Vladimir Putin and Russia “invading” Crimea!
Interesting parallel, in 2014 Russia “invades” Crimea, to the apparent joy of its majority Russian population, just as Turkey “invaded” Cyprus, in 1974, to the joy of the Turkish Cypriot population, yet on the world political stage, both countries are judged guilty, the wishes and benefits of the local populations being ignored!
However, I digress! Max Hastings wants Britain to “somehow” find the money to create an army to aid the Crimean population! Er, how long (or quickly) does he think that it will take to enlist, train and equip such an army and presumably an air force to provide the necessary air cover?
Why get involved in Crimea at all? The last time Britain was militarily involved there, some chinless wonder ordered the almost complete annihilation of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava, 1854!
There was, of course, the Yalta conference during the Second World War. During this, Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill, against the advice of US President Roosevelt, but possibly in a brandy fuelled feeling of goodwill, told Joseph Stalin that he and the Soviet Union of Russia could annexe half of post-war Europe. This ill-considered statement condemned millions and indeed generations of “East” Europeans to lifetimes of misery, poverty and squalor after 1945.
Therefore, historically, Britain’s involvement and connections with Crimea leaves a lot to be desired!
Indeed, where has Max Hastings been for the last decade or so? Britain, along with many other countries, is experiencing a recession and, as a result, austerity measures are being put into place. Cuts and reductions are being made to welfare benefits, pensions and health services to the detriment and inconvenience of the British population.
But, Max Hastings (who, up until now I have respected as a historian, author and journalist), wants British taxpayers’ money spent on the dubious (and possibly unwanted) assistance to a population that has no connection to the UK!
I could almost display my upturned palms, shrug my shoulders and say “but hey, this is Britain”!
Regular readers may remember that in a recent ramble, I wrote the following paragraph:
“While on the subject of kindles and other modern devices, we have noticed that many people now go to cafes to take advantage of “free Wi-Fi” We have also noticed many couples and even entire families enter such establishments and, after ordering refreshments, bring out i-pads, i‑phones etc and immediately, in complete silence, scrabble away feverously on them. Does this mean that mankind will evolve into creatures with fingers and thumbs as flexible as an octopus’s tentacles yet devolve into creatures without the ability to converse”?
A few days later this modern collage of photographs along with a quote “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots” allegedly said by Albert Einstein (who died 18th April 1955) appeared on our “Facebook” page!
Written May 2014
Having recently visited Istanbul, we were very interested in a BBC 3-part documentary, “Byzantium, a Tale of Three Cities”. The city was founded about 2,700 years ago by a Greek called Byzas, and was (obviously!) known as Byzantium. Then, in 320 (ish) AD the Roman Emperor Constantine took control and renamed it his capital city, Constantinople. We waited for the name of the Turkish Emperor or general who caused modern Istanbul to be called “Istanbul”.
We were rather charmed to be told that, before the Turks invaded (is the anti-Turkish ECHR already looking into trying to get reparations to be paid by Turkey to Italy, the centre of the Roman Empire?) the peaceful Turkish peasants and traders would ask their native counterparts where they were going. They were told (after the locals pointed towards the city) “Eis tin poli”, in the dialect of the day “I am going to the city”!
So “eis tin poli” became Istanbul!
A similar language mix-up occurred during the Roman invasion of Britain. When the invading Roman army reached what is now the river Avon, they asked a passing local Celt, (or Angle, Saxon or Jute) what it was called. I can’t find an eye-witness account, but he must have looked very strangely at the mighty invader, because he said “avon”. “Ah” said the Roman soldier, and put the “river avon” on his map. In fact the Celtic word in that region for river was “avon”, so the river Avon should be the river River!
While in the geographical area of Britain, I have read that Scotland wants its independence. If this happens “Great Britain” will just be “Britain”, no longer be able to call itself “Great”. Since the countries that used to constitute its once “great” Empire and Commonwealth gained their independence, (except the few acres/donums that make up Gibraltar and the Falklands), Britain ceased to be “great”, and should have been re-named “Little Britain”! This is a fact that seems to have passed by the Colonel Blimps, politicians and the “Union Jack” brigade as they are desperately trying to keep Scotland in “Great Britain”.
I am neither a political nor financial expert on the local or international pros or cons of the success or failure of the outcome of this venture, but here is one possible option that “Great Britain” tried in the late 1950’s and ‘60’s when one of the members of its Commonwealth wanted independence. This was the era that the native “black” population of Kenya agitated for independence.
Britain’s reaction? Send in the army to protect the minority white population (Does this military action sound familiar?)
Therefore, providing England doesn’t use the Scots Guards or the Gay Gordons (sorry, that is a Scottish dance), the Gordon Highlanders, this strategy may work! Thinking about it, the sight of a couple of hundred “Gay Gordons” in frilly shocking pink tartan kilts at high port (sorry I meant to say in shocking pink tartan kilts with rifles at high port!) would strike fear into the hearts of many people on both sides!
As Kenya gained independence a few years after the start of the military “intervention”, this action was a failure!
The word “invasion” under almost the same circumstances would only apply when Islamic Turkey (successfully) did the same thing a little over 20 years later in Cyprus!
Yet another example of political double standards!