Several years ago we reported and discussed the importance of a healthy bee population. Last year there were noises off left that suggested that the parasite that seemed to be responsible for so many deaths had been identified and methods of dealing with it established. I had got used to taking videos of bees that seemed to be lost, grounded and moving aimlessly in circles. Today I found another possible victim. It would be reassuring from local specialists that, indeed, this danger is past and that what I saw was an injured bee.
THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY “THOMAS COOK VACATIONS” FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS:
1. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”
2. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallartato close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”
10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”
12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”
13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”
15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”
17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”
18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
19. “My fiancée and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”
Thanks Again Bob
Social media, not unsurprisingly, has been distressed by the Manchester bombing outrage. However, there seems to be a strange, but a not unfamiliar division of attitudes. There are comments that blame the police and intelligence for not acting sooner and there are those that blame society for not integrating minority groups more successfully.
Now it may be that the comments I pick up are biased but I find the lack of criticism of the perpetrators and the origin of their creed frightening. Is it because of our media and, more importantly, repressive laws that prevent us discussing, describing, disagreeing publically about real divisions in British society? Have we forgotten so quickly the struggle that has generated our tolerance and openness to ideas that are unpalatable? Did we have to wait for the occupation of the Sudetenland and the invasion of Poland to start publically criticising Hitler and the Nazis that he generated?
Last Thursday on BBC 2’s Question Time during a tense debate about how extreme acts could be thwarted a young Muslim woman said this-
“First of all, I would like to say that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I’m a British Muslim and I’m very proud of my heritage. And there is an elephant in the room here. And unfortunately, it is very unfortunate, there is an issue with regards to radicalisation and extremism that does exist. That is something that we have to accept. I would like to go back to what the gentleman over there was saying when he referenced a mosque.(Editor:The Didsbury Mosque, in Manchester) Yes, we do have an issue within our mosques. We have children being taught the Wahhabi interpretation of the Koran. We have Saudi-trained clerics coming in and speaking I would say, for now, temporarily, close down all Saudi-finance mosques. And I myself speak as a Muslim. I am a Muslim. Not only do we have our own home-grown terrorists, but terrorism is also being imported right under our noses.”
The man referred to had picked up at a Didsbury Mosque literature that he read out declared that Western and UK society was offensive.
A Muslim woman from the Didsbury Mosque replied: “There are no Saudi-funded mosques in the UK. There used to be money that was brought in from abroad but that has all stopped a long time ago.”
Later members of the Didsbury Mosque stated that this literature was not produced by them but by others who attended the mosque and left the literature.
With this confusion is it any wonder that non-Muslim citizens are sceptical about the realities of living as a British Muslim?
In November 2012 we offered this article to stimulate discussion about an important assumption of our democracy. As time has passed and terrorist outrage once more stalks our streets should we put more effort into defining and defending our freedom of speech? Freedom of speech is restricted by perceptions of abuse and hatred but have those restrictions gone too far? Are some groups taking unfair advantage of our tolerance? What do you think?
When we asked after the health of democracy in Wye we might have very well asked about the instruments that ensure its vitality. One of the principal insurances of democracy is the freedom of expression – of which freedom of speech is one aspect – and, like apple pie we all agree that it is good. However, and this is where the trouble begins, we all have reservations and surround our support with caveats. The main caveat is that we should not exhort others to kill and murder – that seems right and in a democratic society we leave decisions about death and killing to our democratic representatives. That seems tautological. If democracy has an insurance against tyranny in the freedom of expression how can we achieve democracy without full freedom of expression? That, even without an extreme example, is a problem. We walk on eggshells when it comes to race and religion and those issues are, as ever, major causes of conflict and a threat to security. The other no-go area is that of privacy of the individual, for which our laws against libel and scandal act as reasonable bulwarks. Reasonable, that is, until they become protections for unacceptable abuse of power and what kind of abuse can we cover up under the cloak of private life?
As Lord Justice Leveson issues his findings on the press and its regulation it will not only be the newspapers that will show concern over the future of the sixth estate – new citizen journalism is already a sufficient thorn in the side of the powerful that it’s censorship is only just around the corner. One only has to run a local website for a few months to experience the reactions to open debate.
BBC: Viewpoints: Should the press be regulated? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/20466955
Skylark Meadow has been a remarkable balm to the eyes over this past week. Beneath what have been cloudy skies, Martin with his love of natural, rather than artificial, management of the quality of his soil has performed a piece of magic. He has bound the nitrogen to the soil with a mixture of flowering plants that generate, not only beauty but a wonderful aroma. We cannot reproduce the latter but here are a few images of the flowers.
For those who will miss this year’s show Martin is already planting for next year; Thank you, Martin!
Donald Trump met with the Queen of England, and he asked her, “Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government? Are there any tips you could give me?”
“Well,” replied the Queen, “the most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.”
Trump frowned, and then asked, “But how do I know the people around me are really intelligent?”
The Queen took a sip of tea. “Oh, that’s easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle.”
The Queen pushed a button on her intercom. “Please send Theresa May in here, would you?”
Theresa May walked into the room and said, “Yes, Your Majesty?”
The Queen smiled and said, “Answer me this, if you would, Theresa. Your mother and father have a child. It is not your brother and it is not your sister. Who is it?”
Without pausing for a moment, Theresa May answered, “That would be me.”
“Yes! Very good,” said the Queen.
Trump went back home to ask Mike Pence the same question. “ Mike, answer this for me. Your mother and your father have a child. It’s not your brother and it’s not your sister. Who is it?”
“I’m not sure,” said Pence. “Let me get back to you on that one.” He went to his advisors and asked everyone, but none could give him an answer.
Finally, Pence ran into Sarah Palin in a restaurant the next night. Pence asked, “Sarah, can you answer this for me? Your mother and father have a child and it’s not your brother or your sister. Who is it?”
Sarah Palin answered right back, “That’s easy, it’s me!”
Pence smiled, and said, “Thanks!” Pence then, went back to speak with Trump. “Say, I did some research and I have the answer to that riddle. It’s Sarah Palin!”
Trump got up, stomped over to Pence, and angrily yelled, “No, you idiot! it’s Theresa May!”
Thanks to critterman
We recently pointed out that nature does not need our actions, such as contaminating the countryside with our rubbish, to challenge local species of both animals and plants.
Yesterday underlined this for us when taking a chance to amble in our glorious AONB we encountered the remains of some predator’s meals! Birds eggs are protected from human predation but, naturally, not from nature’s.
Parts of south-east England have seen just over half their average rainfall since last summer.
The Dutch election has been and gone; the French presidential election been and gone; our own county council elections ditto but how much do we care? The French presidential election saw 75% of the electorate voting. The UK county council elections less than 40%. Yet the air is thick with demands for accountability and responsibility of politicians – I suppose another way of putting that is that the electorate does not trust politicians. The vote is important but I do not think that is the most important issue. The real concern is where our sovereignty lies.
We are, after all, subjects of a monarch or a sovereign. A thousand years ago the sovereignty indeed lay with the sovereign and that power was absolute. Over the intervening time, the people gradually took back that power and so, indeed, the people became the sovereign power. Michael Portillo, among others, doesn’t like the idea of referendums because our way of expressing the power of our sovereignty is by our parliamentary democracy – our representative democracy. If we were to have more direct expression of our power, if, for example, the politicians were told, by the result of a referendum, to enact the wish of the people, would we be more likely to vote/participate? That is, indeed, a leading question, but the answer depends very much on the considerations and attitude towards who is sovereign!