Barnoldswick Local History Articles

Saturday, April 01, 2006


No, this isn’t April Fool…… I have better things to do, and anyway I’ve had enough fooling around this week getting myself off a list of spammers….. Let’s not even go there, just one of the penalties of modern communications. It shows how little I know that when someone asked me why I had a French IP address I had to tell them I hadn’t a clue. I know now because I was forced to become au fait with Dynamic IP addresses but I’m not going to bore you with that.

It’s Saturday morning and up to 8am all was going as normal. We have had heavy rain for three days and even up on Letcliffe, which is fairly well-drained, there are pools of standing water six inches deep. We have a strong westerly wind and heavy rain that is almost sleet, when it hits the windscreen you can see the ice crystals in it. Regardless of this, two things had to be done, I needed my morning paper and Jack had to have a run. I have to tell you that 60lbs of Lurcher travelling at 40 mph across standing water is an impressive sight, he was just a rapidly moving ball of muddy spray. I think you can imagine what a white long-haired dog looks like after half an hour of that activity.

Back home, Jack into the bath and washed down and dried, coffee brewed and by shortly after eight all was as it should be. I was in my chair, pot of coffee in hand and reading the paper. I switched Radio 4 on and found myself listening to twenty minutes of James Naughty interviewing Condoleeza Rice and Jack Straw about the current situation in the Middle East.

This is where I really need a reality check from my friends. Am I alone on experiencing utter frustration and rage when I hear politicians parroting their justification for their actions? Is it normal to have an overwhelming urge to vent my frustration by sitting down and writing this? Is it me that is out of synch with the world or are they the ones who are in error? Is what I am experiencing simply the result of the constant drip, or perhaps barrage, of propaganda designed to persuade the electorate that all is well and that our governments have acted, and are acting, perfectly correctly?

I start from the point where I believed at the time and am still convinced that the second incursion into Iraq was wrong and that there was a better way of handling the situation. I’m not going to go into my reasons, all I will say is that I saw no sign that there had been any advance in foreign relations since 1919 when Britain intervened in Mesopotamia and set up what proved to be a flawed structure and an artificial country similar in many ways to the Balkans. It’s worth noting that during this bout of ‘nation-building’ the British introduced aerial bombardment, chemical warfare and concentration camps to the oldest civilisation on earth.

At the time I made the naïve proposal that $40billion invested in aid to Iraq might have been a better use of money than the same amount spent on attacking the country. I hear this morning in the interview that a figure of $400billion is being quoted now, neither of the foreign secretaries demurred when this figure was mentioned. (neither did they quarrel about a minimum figure of 40,000 civilian casualties) I agreed totally with Simon Schama’s opinion in an article in the Guardian of February 19th 2003; ‘Blast from the Past’ by Matt Seaton. Simon Schama, when asked for his view on the proposed attack on Iraq as compared to WW2 refuted any comparison and ended his piece by saying; ‘As a consequence, if you were Bin Laden, you would be thrilled about the prospect of war: either there will be a great fat target of a western presence in Iraq for several years or there will be a broken and chaotic state: either way it will be a teddy bears' picnic for terrorism.’ Not bad eh? For Bin Laden read anyone who opposes Western/Christian intervention in the Middle East.

My current problem is that I was raised to believe that the truth will always prevail and as I can’t see any signs of this happening I have to ask myself if my version is the truth or are the politicians right, is this the way the world really works? Is Might always Right? Is blowing away 50,000 lives, spending $400billion and eroding international law and human rights really the correct way to respond to a perceived threat? Is it Stanley who is out of step with the rest of the world?

That’s the reason why my Saturday morning has been disturbed. I have to tell you that right or wrong, I stick to my version. I refuse to be diverted from my reading of history and my faith in truth and logic. I have to deal with the world as I see it and not as I am told to perceive it by clever lawyers well-versed in argument and debate. It is wrong to cause this destruction and death and human misery.

So where does this train of thought lead me? I have to say it is into an uncertain future. I am reminded of the title of John Wyndham’s book; ‘The Kraken Wakes’. (or as it was called in some markets ‘Out of the Deeps’) There are several Krakens waking in the world today. I am thinking of the energy crisis, global warming and the shift in world economic power to the Far East. It may well be that the seemingly inexhaustible availability of money to finance military force might dry up when the Powers finally recognise that it isn’t a spurious ‘War on Terror’ that is the problem but a fight to find some way in which we can all survive on Planet Earth. It could well be that if anyone is around to write the history, one of the most far-sighted men of the 20th and 21st centuries might be turn out to be an obscure professor called James Ephraim Lovelock. If Professor Lovelock is correct, we may soon discover what ‘Shock and Awe’ really means. Who will be the April Fools then?

SCG/01 April 2006