This article on US gun statistics is fascinating.
You can draw your own conclusions, but I will say this. Everybody who dies in a shooting, whether deliberate or by accident, is a tragedy for more than just that person.
I know what grief feels like and it’s not pleasant!
The media has already found Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith guilty, but under British law and in fact in a lot of countries, defendants are not guilty until proven to be guilty. Daniel Finkelstein had a long and measured opinion about this in The Times yesterday. He finishes with a plea that everybody has a fair trial and as he says, not being taken to court in their coffin.
But we all tend to be hard on the dead and their perceived crimes.
In a post yesterday, I was being very hard on the man, who decided to electrify the trains south from London using a third rail. I know design faults are not as serious as child abuse, but I’m not alone in condemning the dead.
Today it’s five years since my wife, C, died quietly in her sleep. A lot has happened since, what with the death of our youngest son and my stroke, which necessitated my move from Suffolk to London.
But life in those five years hasn’t been all bad and I’ve experienced some wonderful things. I’ve also just found this in Chambers UK, which is a guide to the best lawyers in the UK.
He works with individuals who are prosecuted on suspicion of funding or having an active part in terrorist groups and conspiracies, and is a vocal critic of the implications of broad legislation and law in this area. He is described as ”a great solicitor.”
The person being described is our middle son. C would be immensely proud! Just as I obviously am!
Today is a really bittersweet day!
I was lucky to see him once in my last year at school, when he gave a lecture on the connection of the moon to earthquakes at the British Astronomical Association. In those days he was a large man with a booming voice. He was a naturally entertaining and infectious speaker.
This paragraph from another article on the BBC sums him up.
Queen guitarist Brian May, who published a book on astronomy written with Sir Patrick, described him as a “dear friend, and a kind of father figure to me”.
He said: “Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life.
It is such a pity, that there seems to be no possible successor to someone, who may well go down in history as the last great British eccentric.
Abortion is a very tricky subject to say the least. But this tragic story from the BBC, may illustrate why every woman needs if not access to abortion, access to the ability to decide.
The Church of St. Andrew in Rodney Street in Liverpool has been a ruin for years.
But now it’s being converted into a hundred student rooms. For a city with a deep religious feeling, it does seem to be very happy to use old churches for secular purposes. Many of my university exams were taken in redundant ones.
I do like this piece from Wikipedia about the church.
Adjacent to the church in the churchyard is a monument to William Mackenzie, a railway contractor who died in 1851. It is in the shape of a pyramid, is constructed in granite, and was erected in 1868. Facing the street is a blind entrance flanked by uprights supporting a lintel containing a bronze plaque. The structure is a Grade II listed building.
There is a tradition that, as Mackenzie was a gambling man, he sold his soul to the Devil, and that his body was placed in a seating position above ground within the pyramid, in order that the Devil may not claim him. His ghost is said to haunt Rodney Street.
So will Mackenzie be surprising students in their beds?
It’s reported in the Standard that a house is being sold for £300m in London.
As the two previous owners died prematurely, would you want to buy such an unlucky house?
I wouldn’t even if I had the money.
And if I did, I certainly would spend that amount on a house.
We may have dealt with the problems inside the grounds by better stadium design and rebuilding, but have we properly dealt with the problems the tragedies create for the emergency services and especially the paramedics.
Sadly, I think that it took some time for the message to get through. For example, with the latest news on Hillsborough, it becomes apparent that the paramedics couldn’t cope and this was probably the case at other non-football-related disasters in recent years. The attacks on the London Underground on the 7th of July 2005 come to mind. In that attack, how many lives were also saved as one bomb went off outside the Royal College of Surgeons?
We have to accept that tragedies and disasters will happen. But are we prepared for the worst, when they do? This week for instance there was a coach crash on the A3 at Hindhead, where three died. Did the emergency services of rural Sussex cope well?
Knowing the A14 well, what would happen if a coach crossed the dual-carriageway at say Newmarket and hit another head-on going the other way? The nearest hospitals are in Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, almost twenty miles away. Do the emergency services train for such an emergency? Or do they hope it won’t happen?
What I feel sorry about the past couple of decades is that Bradford was the wake-up call and everybody ignored it! There was a mixture there of a dilapidated wooden stand with rubbish underneath it. Just one stray cigarette was al it took.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like the wooden escalator at Kings Cross, that caught fire in 1987. It probably wasn’t that simple, but surely the engineers in London Underground must have thought about the danger, after the fire at Bradford.
But the modern safety culture may be just that. Modern!
In the 1970s, I worked on a chemical plant and an instrument that the section I worked for, found that the plant was going into a regime, where it could explode. The plant manager immediately shut the plant and informed the makers. They informed him, that what we had proven, couldn’t be measured and we should keep the plant going. Two years later their plant buried itself in a hillside, killing a number of people.
So we were right! And they were wrong! It is not a nice thing to say, as people died, because of the blinkered thinking of others.
Even today, on my travels around the UK, visiting all the football grounds, one stood out as a place, where a bad accident could happen again! Not I hasten to add in the ground itself, but in the railway station, which brings large numbers of supporters to the ground.
In the September 2012 edition of Modern Railways, there is a small article about the reburying of 300 people from old burial grounds discovered during the building of a new rail flyover that carries the trains for Charing Cross over the top of Borough Market.
Apparently, the novelist Thomas Hardy was involved in the removal of bodies, when St. Pancras station was built in the 19th Century.
I think in this day and age, it was good to see that Network Rail ensured that the new burials in a special plot at the new Kemnal Park cemetery were respectful and echoed how funerals were conducted at the time of the original burials. There is a series of photos here.
Lord Oaksey, who died today, was the sort of unique person, that occasionally, gets created in these isles. I won’t say the UK, as the Irish have produced some like him.
I did meet him and I also saw him give a very good speech, but two memories of him stand out.
In 1963, he wrote a dramatic report on the Grand National, describing how Carrickbeg was only beaten by three-quarters of a length. Only at the end of the report did you realise, that he had been riding the horse.
The other was much later, when he was broadcasting on Channel 4, at I think Uttoxeter racecourse. Someone had set up a crane to do bungy jumps and there was pressure for one of the Channel 4 team to do the jump. All the others like John Francome refused and it was the over-60-year-old Lord Oaksey who did it.
How many others have done a bungy jump on air at that age?
War correspondents these days, may have a tougher time, but has there been a racing journalist, who combined both careers with such skill at the same time?