Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Return of the native?

Spent yesterday staring at the grey sky willing it to rain. Which at the very end it did, then carried on all night into this morning to give the ground what it needs. 
A week ago we arrived back from Sicily and Lipari into a suffocating heat, descending steps in an old-fashioned way onto hot tarmac, walking to an airport building that had no moving stairs or lift – I imagine all because Easyjet pay Gatwick less for such lack of amenity. Flying really has become cattle-wagon awful, and LGW the very worse of all airports, retail outlet the priority, passenger comfort barely considered – unless of course you’re First or Club or Business. 
Not that Southern Rail was any better with its overcrowded short trains. Here we most certainly were back in a country that doesn’t much care anymore, beyond simple xenophobia and the general air of poverty and despair that is the inevitable outcome of huge and restricted private wealth coupled with public squalor. England doesn’t feel familiar anymore. I am no longer at ease. People’s expressions seem unwelcoming, more sour and suspicious than a year ago. 
Only the mention of Corbyn’s name might bring forth something like a smile. How impossible return to England might have been if Jeremy hadn’t so emphatically bruised the Tory heel and destroyed the Prime Minister’s hauteur, punishing her lack of principle. For a clergyman’s daughter she demonstrates so little humanity. And Corbyn, by contrast, so much.

I haven’t read too many public apologies from the pundits and political commentators who’d written him off with their twelve months of savage ridicule and disdain. And I don’t mean those of the Daily Mail or Murdoch’s comics: I refer to the Guardian and Observer journalists, most of whom I expect to see sent off on indefinite sabbatical to reapply their craft without the arrogant inherited prejudice of London intellectualism. Owen Jones, Gary Younge, Paul Mason, George Monbiot, William Keegan come to mind as honourable exceptions. 

Shall I now spend today staring at another grey but wetter sky and wonder again where I would choose to live if I had the means to survive elsewhere? And in that respect we do respect this country and its (much threatened) Welfare State. Though I'm sure, even at the age of 77, I would be called by some 'a scrounger'.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Europe calling London....

I remember sitting under the Morrison table listening to the  ... –  opening to Beethoven's Fifth, morse-code for V, V for Victory; and then the shiver-up-your-spine words that followed: London Calling Europe, London Calling Europe....  the BBC programme that became for the whole Continent (even Germany itself) the single voice of truth, broadcasting with equal emphasis our defeats and our victories. 
Having family and friends in France and Italy, we knew that they were listening; and later knew that Britain standing alone to resist Hitler from June 1940 kept a free Europe alive in hearts and minds. 

How different now in 2017 when the whole Continent laughs at the idea of 'truth' in these off-shore reservations of bluebells, ignorance and xenophobic idiocy. Needless to say Brexit is not a 2nd Battle of Britain; nor is it anything to do with dignity or courage.  
Europe Calls London: 'Where on earth are you?'
And England replies: 'Sorry, chaps. We've run away.'

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The who and why...

Even if you read books, is that darkness far below not now inevitable? Will this country (England & Wales) choose, as nature predicts, the line of least resistance offered by the one political party that never did believe in compassion or social justice? 

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The six Harry & Annie books now available as paperbacks or e-books

Now released - the final of the six novels in the Harry and Annie series.  See Bookshop to buy on Amazon as printed versions or e-books.  A summary of each of the six novels available for purchase is given below.

Harry and Annie

(a tetralogy in six volumes written by John Howlett, published in 2017)

Six novels that follow families and friends through the Twentieth Century, in particular Harry and Annie who come together in bizarre circumstances during the final 18 months of the First World War, lance-corporal Harry, a shepherd from the Cheviot border hills, Annie from affluent New England, a volunteer nurse with a Harvard Medical Unit....

Vol. 1

 Love of an Unknown Soldier

 Their love story started exactly 100 years ago in 1917 during the grim and endless slaughter of the Third Battle of Ypres that came to be called Passchendaele, ninety-nine days of terror and horror – with a murder that will haunt Harry for the rest of his life, but also a love that would last for eighty three years. Love of an