The debt we owe our heroes


I was dismayed to learn that the statue in London’s Green Park (commemorating the ultimate sacrifice made in World War Two by members of Bomber Command) had been vandalised – covered in white paint.

The Royal Marine Memorial was also vandalised, as was the memorial to WPC Yvonne Fletcher, who, in April 1984, was killed by a bullet fired from the Libyan Embassy in St. James’s Square.

The paint-throwing cowards hid their faces beneath hoods, while they desecrated memorials to heroes who bravely faced danger and death every day.

I can’t imagine the vandals would possess the cool-headed courage that 25-year-old flight engineer Norman Jackson did on a bombing raid over Germany in 1944. After coming under attack, the starboard wing of his Lancaster bomber caught fire and, despite being wounded by shrapnel, at a height of 22,000 feet he climbed on to the wing with a fireextinguisher!

As the plane travelled at 200 mph it came under further attack, he got badly burnt and fell off the plane, his parachute bursting into flames. He spent the rest of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp and was later awarded the Victoria Cross.

There’s a growing tendency today for certain groups to delight in smearing major figures from Britain’s past – some of whom were, admittedly, flawed characters.

However,they were the ones who bravely stepped up to the plate to defend Britain and because they did we live in a country where people can try and rewrite history through 21stCentury eyes – a futile task!

Ironically, if our war heroes and military leaders hadn’t acted as they did, today’s naysayers wouldn’t have the chance to say nay!

Despite what happened to him, Norman Jackson was one of the luckier members of Bomber Command. 55, 573 of the 125,000 lost their lives.

It comes down to this.

Who would you rather have a pint and a chat with – Norman Jackson or a self-important, would-be rewriter of our history?


Old days and the community spirit

As a young lad, I was brought up in the days where everybody in the street on which you lived knew everyone else. I am sure many of you reading this column can remember this time very well. The good old days.

However, times have changed and, unfortunately, there are so many of us today that don’t know who lives on the street, or, in some cases, even who lives next door!

Gone are the days when you would pop next door to borrow a cup of sugar or your neighbour would pop in to share their copy of the local paper when they’d finished it.

My grandmother would always make the effort to check on her neighbours and get to know anyone new who moved into the street. If she were still around today, they’d nickname her “Google”.

Keeping in touch with those around you was second nature. These were life skills and values that would prove useful for all concerned. Wouldn’t it be lovely to see this sense of community make a welcome return?

Now you can’t meet the gang!

“Meet The Gang, ’Cos The Boys Are Here. The Boys To Entertain You!”

Many readers will recognise the song that opened all 56 episodes of the BBC sitcom “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum!”. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and based on their wartime experiences with army concert parties in Burma and India.

It’s hard making people laugh in comedy clubs. How tough must it have been with gunfire and explosions close by? One of the stars of the series, Windsor Davies, sadly passed away recently, aged 88. His character in the sitcom, Battery Sergeant Major Bryn Williams, was truly memorable.

Viewers roared with laughter whenever he loudly voiced his disapproval of the hopeless entertainers in uniform – a motley crew he constantly failed to discipline into a fighting force.

The Sgt Major was always troubled by Bombardier ‘Gloria’ Beaumont, played by Melvyn Hayes, and ‘Mister Lah-Dee-Dah’ Gunner Graham, played by John Clegg.

The series ran from 1974 to 1981 and had regular audiences of 17 million! I’d better repeat that in capital letters – 17 MILLION!

Last Christmas, BBC bosses were delighted when “Call The Midwife” was watched by 9 million!

Times have changed and the BBC refuse to repeat “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” because they say it’s racist.

Although Perry and Croft denied these accusations, their protestations that the Indian characters always outwitted the ‘idiotic’ British officers were stifled by the BBC, who couldbe accused of hypocrisy.

Because not only are they happy to make money from a series they disdain – every episode is available on BBC DVD – the Gold channel, part-owned by the BBC, often repeats another Perry and Croft comedy classic “Are You Being Served?”

The sitcom features thinly-disguised innuendo about Mrs. Slocombe’s cat; the outrageously camp Mister Humphries; and ‘Young’ Mister Grace, a man so ancient he’s helped around by a busty young blonde nurse. So that’s okay then!

In view of the BBC’s refusal to repeat “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum!”, I’ve rewritten the opening song…

“You Can’t Meet The Gang, ’Cos The Boys Aren’t Here. They’re Not Allowed To Entertain You!”

Travelling on the road to true inspiration

They do say that travel broadens the mind. It has its benefits no doubt – and for those that are blessed with the ability to get about and see the word, life can be enhanced in so many ways.

For me, travel takes me away from the day to day challenges, pressure of work and constant demands that many of us face, in this fast-paced world that we now live in.  I’m lucky to have work-related activities that allow me to travel.

Time away often gives me a chance to think and reflect – a welcome opportunity to clear my head and process the important things in life.  At times like this I find that I’m at my creative best.

Possibly because I have an opportunity to watch and observe other people and cultures, which over the years has provided me with some truly inspirational writing and comedy gold.

Yes, this is me watching you. Another blessing. By the way – I’m not keen on camping. Let’s face it, life can be hard enough as it is!