The Anonymous Widower

Preparations For War

I always remember a tale told by my mother about her mother, who was born in Dalston in the 1880s.

In 1939, my mother asked her mother, if she was ready for the inevitable war.

The reply was as follows.

I was caught out in the First War and I’m not going to get caught out in this one!

I’ve got a hundredweight of jam and a hundredweight of sugar in the cellar!

Do readers still know what a hundredweight is? – Fifty kilos.

From what I know, my grandmother was rather a forceful woman of very strong Devonian ancestry, with the Yeoman surname of Upcott.

In this war against COVID-19, I may have made a few preparations, but nothing like those my formidable grandmother would have made.

March 17, 2020 Posted by | Food, Health, World | , , , | 4 Comments

How Dubrovnik Suffered

The map on the right of this picture, shows all of the damage sustained in Dubrovnik during the break-up of Yugoslavia.

War Damage On A Map Of Dubrovnik

War Damage On A Map Of Dubrovnik

The scale of the damage in the fighting between over the city, is well shown on this map, although most now seems to have been repaired.

The cause of the war between Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, will long be debated, but as with Syria and Russia, it is usually because a group of nasty men want to cling to power and enough of their electorate can be bribed to back them.

A version of that map should be forcibly tattooed on all the war criminals and their supporters in that insane war.

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

In The Steps Of Kaiser Bill

The area of forest in which we were walking had at one time been the private hunting forest of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The stone commemorates the shooting of his two thousandth stag. I find that rather excessive!



January 18, 2016 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

From The Country That Brought You The Lada; The New Battle Tank

Ever since I met a British Army General a few years ago, whose opinions of large battle tanks were distinctly sceptical and I had several drinks with a US Air Force A-10 pilot, I’ve always thought that tanks are a waste of money, except for perhaps frightening the population of countries you’re not invading, as the Russians have been doing in the Ukraine.

What adds to my sceptism is that if you look at tank warfare over the last hundred years, when a country makes a big improvement in tank size and firepower, other nations attempt to leapfrog them. As you can’t rustle up a thousand tanks immediately, countries think laterally. In the Second World War, we countered German tanks by developing the Hurricane IID or flying can opener and the PIAT anti-tank gun. In the 1970s, the Americans designed and built the A-10 Thunderbolt, one of whose jobs was to be to destroy Russian armour.

You can rest assured that research and development is going on in countries, who might be threatened by tanks to develop the next generation of tank killers.

So when I see that Putin has spent billions of roubles to develop the T 14 Armata, I just think he has got more money than sense.

I didn’t even laugh when I read this article in the Daily Telegraph, which says that a tank has broken down in the rehearsal for an important parade.

The General would probably have said that this is typical tank reliability.



May 7, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Wars Of Religion

This was the big headline in The Times on Friday. It does sum up the mess involving Muslims in the Middle East in particular. Admittedly, with a little bit of help from their bogeymen; the Israelis.

A commentator yesterday on the BBC who had a military background, said that what is going on between the two main factions of  in Islam, is akin to what when on between Catholics and Protestants in Europe in the Thirty Years War. Wikipedia describes that war like this.

The Thirty Years’ War (1618–1648) was a series of wars principally fought in Central Europe (primarily present-day Germany), involving most of the European countries. It was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history, and one of the longest continuous wars in modern history.

The commentator said, that it is conceivable that the two factions is Islam, will bring on a similar conflict.

We must do our best to not be drawn into this stupid conflict. To air drop food and water to refugees is one thing, but to favour one side or the other is a complete no-no.

August 10, 2014 Posted by | News | , , | 1 Comment

Why Was Flight MH 17 Over Ukraine?

There’s an old saying, that says there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.

Over the last week or so, there have been reports of the rebels in the East of Ukraine shooting down Ukranian planes. An ex-British Airways pilot on the BBC this morning, felt that planes should avoid the area. In fact, the BBC has also stated that some airlines have been avoiding the area anyway.

But as Simon Calder, the respected travel journalist, said on the BBC this morning, if you’re flying long haul, you often fly over a war zone.

And then today because of the thunderstorms in the UK, there have been delays and diversions of airliners. So planes are avoiding extreme weather, but not war zones!

But I wouldn’t fly in any plane that went over a war zone, where the participants had the capability and especially the record of shooting down high-flying aircraft.

I sometimes think that my policy of holidaying in the area covered by my EHIC card is a sensible one, because of my health history. There’s still eight countries in that area, that I haven’t visited and they include dangerous places like Finland and Leichtenstein.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Boys With Be Boys

There is a lot of speculation in the media, as why Muslim men are flocking to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Was it ever any different?

Go back to the Middle Ages and it was rape and pillage in the Crusades or with Henry the fifth, and later it was piracy with Drake and Grenville.

Nelson And Wellington were not short of volunteers and in Victorian times, it was all about Empire building, with a small personal fortune thrown in, if you were lucky!

Perhaps the nearest parallel to that of Syria and Iraq today, was the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. Many of those who fought in the Brigades or openly supported them went on to be important figures in later life.

You could also argue that both the First and Second World War was an outlet for many men, who had an excess of testosterone.

I also remember a General, saying that the Falklands War did a lot of good for Army recruitment.

I am a pacifist or more likely a coward, but we shouldn’t be too quick to condemn those, who go to fight in Iraq and Syria.

The ones we should condemn are the countries and arms dealers, who are giving the likes of the odious President Assad, the weapons they are using to kill their own people.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

An Excellent Use For Rats

I saw this story about rats being used for mine clearance in Mozambique first in The Times.  But here’s the report with a picture from the Mirror.

The Gambian pounched rat used for the clearance certainly looks to be a bit bigger than your average UK rat. Good luck to the charity Apopo in their work!

The bad news is that the Gambian pounched rat is not a genuine rat, so those murophobics won’t be pleased, if something goes wrong.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | News | , | Leave a comment

A History Of Syria With Dan Snow

I am watching this program on BBC2 as I write this and I’ve never seen a program that explains the tortuous history of the troubled country of Syria so well.

The program is being repeated tomorrow at 23:20 according to this page and is an absolute must see!

If you don’t see the program, your ideas about and solutions for Syria won’t be correct. Unless of course, you are someone who has studied the country and its history and problems for years.

It has been some time, since I’ve seen such an informative and well-made documentary on such a terrifying subject, that might boil over on all of us!

And to think that one of the causes of the current round of troubles in Syria, is the bad doctor, Bashar-al-Assad!

One phrase from Dan Snow summed up the mess.

The threads running through this conflict, mean there is no simple solution.

As he finishes the program, he does at least feel that there is some hope, because of the resilience and experience of the Syrian people.

I hope he’s right!

March 11, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

Will The Next World War Be Fought On The Internet?

If you think it won’t, just read this article on the BBC’s web site.

The Chinese will increase their hacking over the next few years and many of us will get compromised, no matter how careful we are.  And let’s face it many of us don’t even have basic virus protection.

I can think of scenarios that might happen to say a fully-compromised banking network, that will make the problems of the banking industry of the last few years, seem like a children’s tea-party.

February 12, 2013 Posted by | Computing, Finance, World | , , | Leave a comment