Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Joe Biden, echoes of Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump

The United States is imploding.
This is the result of "psychic epidemics" (Carl Jung). No, not comparable to the benign flower power of the1960s but comparable to the malignant, tribalist hate of the interbellum years.

The major psychic epidemics in the US started before Trump, but the present manifestation centers around his person.
On the one hand, the zealots who worship Trump, adoring him as if he is a Messiah-light.
On the other hand, the zealots who think Trump is the incarnation of the devil.
Both are destroying the country with their tribal fanaticism.

Biden says he wants to "heal"America. 
Yes, he can isolate the Trumpist zealots with an outreach to more moderate Republicans. His expertise in wheeling and dealing makes him very suitable for this purpose.

However, it is his own zealots who are the biggest problem for him.
A “Squad” who want a McCarthy-type purge of Trump supporters from “polite society”; the thuggery of Antifa and BLM on the streets; the thuggery of a mob media that cancels those who do not toe the politically correct line; the thuggery of campus mobs who want to expel anybody with a dissident meaning and want to ban every dissident speaker from universities.

I doubt Biden is willing to take on his own zealots. I do not think he will “heal” America. 
He failed the first test: when Antifa recently attacked Trump supporters, he refused to specifically condemn their violence. Instead he condemned “all attacks of violence”. 
Echoes of Jeremy Corbyn condemning "all prejudice" and Donald Trump's "there are good people on both sides". 

Sunday, 15 November 2020

The Trials and Tribulations of a Hitchhiker

My girlfriend’s mother gave me a lift in her Citroen Dyane to Hook of Holland. From there I was going to take the ferry to England.
I had not seen my parents in 6 years.

She dropped me off at the entrance to the port. I walked the rest of the way to where the ferries left for Harwich. Unfortunately, I had missed the day ferry and would have to wait all day for the evening ferry.
I decided to hitchhike down to Ostend in Belgium.
It was a shorter, cheaper crossing, there were more ferries leaving from there, it was not that far and it was better than just waiting around for 10 hours.

It took me all day, and I ended up in Zeebrugge, not in Ostend. Townsend had a morning and evening ferry service between Zeebrugge and Dover.

There was a kiosk for tickets. I asked the ticket seller when the next ferry was leaving.
He pointed to a ship in the distance and said, “You just missed the evening ferry. The next one is tomorrow morning”.

That was somewhat upsetting.
I walked around for a bit thinking about what I should do next. There was a bench in a bus shelter that I designated as my sleeping quarters.
Then I went into a bar that was just opening for a cup of coffee. 

The proprietor came over for a chat and I told him about the situation.
He said not to worry about food and drink, as pretty soon the bar would fill up with English lorry drivers who were going to take the morning ferry.
They had day money for expenses which they spent on drinks in his bar. He would add a meal and drinks for me onto one of their bills.
They would not care and anyway they would be too drunk to notice.

The bar did fill up quite quickly and I did get a meal and drinks.
Later in the evening the ticket seller came in. When he saw me he waved and went over to talk to the proprietor.
They both came over to my table.

The ticket seller said, “This is a new ship and they are offering perks. Co-drivers can travel for free. If one of these lorry drivers who has no co-driver is willing to take you with him, I will write out an extra ticket for you.”
The proprietor stood up, looked around his cafe and walked over to an inebriated lorry driver who agreed to take me as his co-driver.

Things were looking up. I thought that I had also found a good place to sleep: international lorries have beds.
Unfortunately he had found me a Yorkshire driver who not only looked like an extra from Steptoe and Son, his lorry was also more a rag and bone man’s truck. It had no beds and I had to sleep in the passenger’s seat. 
Still, it was better than the bus shelter.

Early the next morning someone came round to the lorry with the new tickets. Everything went quite smoothly after that. 
We drove onto the ship and there was a man in uniform there checking the incoming vehicles.
“Driver and co-driver” he said in a posh voice. 
“Yes, sir” we both replied. If I had been wearing a hat, I would have tipped it.

Then it was time for breakfast.
One of the perks Townsend offered was a free British breakfast. 
I appreciated that.
Another perk was allowing the drivers to buy duty free cigarettes and alcohol at a reduced rate (the rate for the crew).

My Yorkshire chauffeur gave me money to buy an extra round of duty free goods for him under my name, which I was pleased to do.
When we reached Dover, I gave him his cigarettes and booze and bid him farewell. 
His lorry had to go through customs and there was a long queue.

I was lucky and almost immediately got a lift up to London from a foreign student who was driving a Citroen Dyane.

Monday, 9 November 2020

The man who threatened to shoot Velvella

We had not seen Gidon and Franca in more than 30 years.
You know how time flies. We went up to see them in Nahariya.

Gidon took me round to visit his eldest daughter and family. He introduced me to his son-in-law with the words, “This is the guy who threatened to shoot Velvella.”
I thought, so that piece of shit has become a legend and replied, “No it was not me. That was Kalman Wishingrad.”

Velvella was a short, stocky staff sergeant in the paratroopers. He was also an unarmed combat instructor.
Besides that, he was a sadist and a bully.

Part of our basic gear was a poncho. Two ponchos threaded together were a tent.
Kalman was the other half of my tent.
He was a bit weird and not very sociable but we got on well enough.

When Kalman was doing his basic training, Velvella was a sergeant at the base.
They only met once.

Kalman was coming back from guard duty. He was tired and a bit dishevelled.
Velvella saw him and thought he would have a bit of “fun”. He called Kalman over and bawled him out for being dishevelled.
Then he ordered him to run about holding his rifle above his head with both hands.

As Velvella was enjoying himself so much, he upped the ante.
He ordered Kalman to start walking “like a whore”. This is a punishment where you have to squat, raise your rifle above your head and start walking. It can be pretty tiring after a bit.

Kalman snapped.
During basic training you do not have any live ammunition except when you are doing guard duty. As Kalman was coming back from guard duty he still had a magazine in his FN.

He cocked the rifle, aimed it at Velvella and said, “If you say another word I will blow your head off.”
They stared at each other for a bit, and then Velvella turned around and walked off.

I know the story because Kalman told it to me. Perhaps he embellished it a bit, but the confrontation had been verified by others who witnessed the incident.

Why did Gidon think it was me?
There is another story about my confrontation with Velvella. I was also instrumental in getting him kicked out of the paratroopers.
I think both stories had been rolled into one and I was now the person who had threatened him.

With hindsight I should have kept my mouth shut when Gidon introduced me to his son-in-law.
I do not mind being known as the man who threatened to shoot Velvella.
It has a certain Liberty Valance ring to it.