Old enough to remember Bebop

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This study of Dizzy Gillespie is from the camera of staffer Bill Gottlieb, depicting the be-bopper’s characteristic hat, spectacles, horn, goatee and slouch. |Image available from the United States Library of Congress’s Music Division under the digital ID gottlieb.03091.

Born during WWII and brought up in the countryside close to the border between England and Wales. Attended boarding school in Surrey. Engineering apprenticeship followed by a long career in design and project administration. Served as a Councillor in NE Lincolnshire 1985–91.

Places I’ve lived/worked: Hereford, Coventry, Cleethorpes, a village between Hull and York, all in England. Durban, South Africa. Now residing in a small town in the Irish midlands.

Married 1963, became a dad 1965, granddad 1994.

Self published first novel 2010, four more published since, plus one non-fiction.

Genres: historical fiction, focusing on Irish history and England in the second half of the twentieth century. Short stories in several anthologies, including four horror collections compiled by Dan Allatorre.

Medium articles focus on history, literature, current affairs and the environment.

I love gardening. Here is a picture of an apple tree in my garden this summer.

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Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

It is more than sixty years since I took the English Literature examination for what was then called the General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level or GCE ‘O’ Level. And yet there is something from one of the books we studied that lives with me still, and probably influences much of my own writing. The book was Belloc’s Essays. The piece that so influenced me was The Mowing of a Field, a glorious evocation of rural life and the pleasures to be gained from performing simple tasks and communing with nature.

Despite the pleasure I gained from reading that essay I had never since had the inclination, or the time, to discover more about its author and his other literary works. Until recently, when, for a creative writing workshop, I was asked to offer for consideration a favourite poem. I had a vague notion that Belloc was a poet as well as an essayist. …

The Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier was the real author of a frequently quoted right-wing observation.

Profound: having or showing great knowledge or insight.

Simplistic: treating complex issues and problems as if they were much simpler than they really are. (both definitions from Google Dictionary)

The meme a friend shared on Facebook the other day carried the heading “What a profound little paragraph”. It continued with a quotation attributed to Dr Adrian Rogers in 1931.

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Original image source unknown. Copied from a friend’s Facebook post.

The first problem, for me, with this statement, the reason I think it simplistic rather than profound, is that it ignores the fact that the wealthy gained their wealth through other people working for them. …

That’s not a question, by the way. Let me tell you what is wrong with the argument presented by this Medium article.

Let’s start by accepting as fact that every living species is food for one or more other species. That is the foundation of nature. It involves killing. The activity the author of that article is unwilling to be a part of.

I understand his desire to preserve the lives of cattle, pigs and chickens. But how far is he prepared to go? If he is offended by all killing, determined to protect and preserve living creatures, what about rats? Cockroaches? Locusts? Lice? Mosquitoes? …

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A group of World War Two airmen posing in front of a Lancaster Bomber of the type flown by my father throughout the summer and autumn of 1943 Picture from https://raf-pathfinders.com/other-pff-sqds/ He and they were proud patriots in an unquiet world.

It was the Dublin born playwright and Nobel prize winner George Bernard Shaw who said “You’ll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the human race.” (Misalliance, 1910).

I could not agree more. Others might dismiss the statement on the grounds that Shaw was a Socialist: member of the Fabian Society, present at the founding of the British Labour Party and apologist for Lenin, Stalin and Mussolini.

Ignoring Shaw’s sometimes inconsistent political views, I want to examine the quotation in the context of global history in the 110 years since they first appeared.

I am proud of my father’s war record. I have no doubt that he believed his service in one of the most dangerous and controversial forces of the war — a Pathfinder squadron within bomber command — was a powerful demonstration of his patriotism. …

The premise of this article is that the wealthiest 1% got rich — and continue to do so — by selling us stuff we don’t really need. So all it takes to redress the balance is for us to buy less of that stuff.

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Thrift is a plant with small pink flowers that thrives on coastal sites. It’s also a long forgotten virtue that we could all do with bringing back to life. Image from S.N.Pattenden at Unsplash

1. Don’t change your car this year — or next. Your car is still doing the job you bought it for — taking you to work, the kids to school, the family to the game and so on. Unless it has started costing you a lot for repairs and/or the tires are worn, why change? Sure, the ads put out by the makers tempt you with all the great features available on the latest model and offer so called ‘fantastic’ deals on finance. …

It’s time to re-evaluate our priorities for the economy of the future.

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Even in paradise work is inevitable. Image from Alexis Antonio at Unsplash

It is a while since I wrote that the Covid 19 pandemic should be seen as a wake up call for the travel and hospitality industries. Four and a half months on, and the stuttering attempts to revive the sector are demonstrating the truth of my assertion.

I believe that the importance attached to this business sector, and the wider sports and leisure industry, is symptomatic of the extent to which we in the developed world have lost touch with what matters. Maybe the pandemic is providing a wake up call for all of us.

Perhaps a return to the basics of ‘Economics 101’ will help readers to understand how I have arrived at this conclusion. …

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Should government subsidise things like this? Image from Maddi Bazzacco at Unspplash

Supporting the hospitality industry is not the way to restart the economy.

It has been reported that one of the reasons the UK government wants people to stop working from home is because it is bad for the businesses that serve office workers in ghettos of bureaucracy like the City of London.

It seems utterly bizarre that people are being told to commute to work for no better reason than to provide profits for the proprietors of coffee shops and restaurants and the owners of city office blocks.

People who work from home still need to consume food and drink. Doing it at home means they are supporting local businesses, those small shops and cafes that are the beating heart of a community. …

Here’s why it isn’t.

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On British television last night they showed a clip of a woman somewhere in the USA who was most indignant about the need to wear a face mask. “Do you realise this disease has a 99.6% survival rate?” she asked the reporter.

I want to ask her does she realise what a 99.6% survival rate means?

I want to ask her to think about the people she knows: her uncles, her aunts, her cousins, the people who live on her street, the shop-keepers in her neighborhood, the people who attend her church, her work colleagues.

I’m thinking she would have little difficulty in counting up to 250 people to whom she is related or who she encounters on a frequent basis. …

We can all learn from the roles of women in the past, as exposed by women writers.

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Image from Danny at Unsplash

I’m writing today about two authors I admire, both of whom write historical fiction, placing women at the centre of the action.

Emma Donoghue’s historical novels and short stories include Slammerkin, The Wonder, The Sealed Letter, Frog Music, Life Mask, The Pull of the Stars and Astray

I have not yet read all of the books listed, indeed, one is not yet available as you will discover at the end of this article.

I acquired The Wonder at an event during Listowel Writers’ Week in early June 2017. …


Frank Parker

Frank is a retired Engineer from England now living in Ireland. He is trying to learn and share the lessons of history.

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