Tag Archives: respect

Did you make your mark? And how?

I haven’t had much to say of late, but I have been listening.
That’s partly because I’ve been ill.
I was listening and trying to make sense of the cacophony of ideas and comment that filled cyberspace, the radio waves, television and our newspapers as we approached the UK’s general election.Big Ben
Believe me, it was hard. So much noise and so little clarity. With only a week or so to go, no one seemed to be able to predict the outcome.
Too close for comfort
Now it’s all over bar the shouting, at least until September, when The Labour Party has its conference and there’ll be plenty of noise about then.
That’s not so surprising when you think that, for years, it’s been nigh-on impossible to slip a cigarette paper between the two major parties’ policies or their leaders, whoever they may be.
Both leaders banged on before the election about reducing the budget deficit, blaming each other for its existence and the way it was handled. Yet neither seemed to have a credible solution.
Each one swore blind the NHS was safe in their hands while acknowledging it needs reform. But who knows where they might take it? Less than a month later it was deemed to be in trouble again.
And they both had our ageing population’s welfare and our children’s education right at the heart of their programmes. Where is it now?
“Vote for us from cradle to grave”, but what would we get?
Even if you turned to the minority parties, there wasn’t much on offer.
The Greens’ ideas seemed attractive, until you recalled their leader’s February “brain fade” and asked yourself if they’d be able to keep a grip on their day-to-day thinking, let alone the economy.
UKIP didn’t fare too well, unless you were a rabid anti-immigrationist or a simple-minded little Englander.
As for the Liberal Democrats, they seem to have completely lost their way since they were blinded by the bright lights of so-called power sharing as they went into coalition with the Conservatives. Their leader quit almost before he’d lost his seat.
Damaged goods
Aside from their policies, there was also the question of morality or, to be kinder, the whether of whether or not any of our currently serving MPs are fit for purpose.
Even now it’s hard to forget, and even harder to forgive, the business of MPs’ expenses. The infamous duck house enjoys legendary status. The second homes are an indelible memory.
More recently and nearer the election, we had accusations levelled at both Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw that they were willing to accept cash in hand in exchange for a word in various MPs’ ears.
Even the church, which delivered such a well-reasoned critique on the state of British politics early in the year, was accused of hypocrisy for demanding an increase in the minimum wage when it currently paid some of its people less than that.
And then there was the government’s relationship with big business. What were we to make of the half-Nelson administered – and still administered – by some of the huge corporations whose influence paralyses the politicians’ ability to effect change in almost any walk of life?
Could we, in short, have confidence in anyone or any party that entreated us for our vote?
The radical alternative
I don’t profess to have an absolute answer to any of your questions, but I do have a suggestion.
Between now and the next general election let’s try to get something on the ballot paper that allows us to express ourselves properly, rather than having to vote in a way that leaves us uncomfortable just because we’re trying to keep someone out, rather than vote as we feel.
I didn’t vote (because I was stuck in the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, too late to register for a postal vote, and too ill to be allowed out to the polling station).
But had I been able to vote I probably would have spoiled my paper by writing something like NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE SUITABLE across it.
It would then have gone into the pile marked “Spoiled papers” and been forgotten.
Let’s, next time, have a place where you can put a tick next to NO CONFIDENCE.
That way we all be able to vote as we feel, not as we’re expected to.

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On yer bike, Mr Armstrong!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been asked a couple of times if I’m going to delete a particular image from my photographic website (www.glibberyphotographs.com).

The picture in question is in my Sporting Heroes gallery. It was made in 2010 and features Lance Armstrong, taking part in his last-ever Tour de France Time Trial.

I’ve decided not to delete this image, not because I don’t want to erase Lance Armstrong from history, but because I still like it.

Lance Armstrong, Bordeaux TT 2010

The Tainted Time Triallist, Bordeaux, France, 2010

For me, it represents a moment in sporting history: the last hurrah in Europe of a man who, for many, will always be some kind of hero, if only for beating testicular cancer and returning to competitive cycling at the highest level.

Never first among equals

I hope it will also always act as a reminder of what we now know: that  – when he won his seven Tour de France titles – Armstrong may have been first but was never first among equals.

He was, as he admitted to Oprah Winfrey and some 28 million people watching worldwide, a serial cheat who’d used performance-enhancing drugs since before he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Now, for me, he’s history. If he’s going to get on his bike at all, it should only be to ride off into the distance where, before too long I hope, he’ll become part of the distant past.

He was a hero once, but – as we now know – a deceitful winner of his palmarès. Shame on him for that.

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Falling out of love with freedom

The publication of the Leveson report into the conduct of the British press has set a million tongues wagging and gazillions of fingers tapping, including mine. And this is what they’re saying.

They’re telling me that I’m worried about the way Leveson has divided people over one of its most important issues: the freedom of the press.

Don’t get me wrong. I love newspapers.  Tattered Jack

I was seduced by them when I was a teenager in the 1950s, and I’ve gone on loving them across the decades that I’ve been writing advertising on the back of editorial.

Despite the fact that some are good and some are bad – that some sell millions and others handfuls – our newspapers’ freedom of speech never ceases to remind me of the wonderfully multi-faceted nature of our society.

Now, for one reason or another, some people are saying that freedom is likely to be undermined – even eroded – by obligations set out by Leveson and underpinned by law.

And this really worries them.

I have to say, it’s what worries them that really worries me.

Freedom feeds on responsibility

No matter how you look at it, freedom is a wonderful thing.

It’s definitely worth fighting for. Some even die for it. Others, like Kris Kristopherson, take a more sanguine view, saying it’s “just another word for nothing left to lose”.

For me it’s a vital ingredient in any civilised society.

But all freedoms have to be treated with respect.

We have to recognise that, if we are to embrace any kind of freedom, we have to acknowledge the responsibilities that come with it.

The people who worry about their loss of freedom due to obligations underpinned by statutory laws or regulatory bodies seem to be calling for a society in which anything – including some wicked activities that fall outside the law – will be accepted.

If that’s the kind of freedom people want, it’s not for me.

While I want a free press with the freedom to seek justice, defend the oppressed, champion the underprivileged and expose the wicked, I want to read newspapers that respect the responsibilities their freedom imposes.

If that respect dies, it won’t be long before my love of newspapers dies with it.

And I’ll find myself falling out of love with freedom.

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Hello and welcome!

This is my very first post on this blog, which is pretty exciting for me, if not for you.

It’s headed ‘Greetings!’, but I wonder if it should really say ‘Salutations!’, because that’s what’s on my mind.

A few weeks ago, I got into a discussion with my business partners about how we should address a bundle of letters – most of which were going to be sent to men.

I wanted to use the suffix ‘Esq’. Someone else wanted to use ‘Mr’ and the other person didn’t seem to mind.

All she could tell us was that the last time she saw ‘Esquire’ in common use was in the 1990s, when her father – who held a number of posts in the local community – used to receive business letters with the suffix ‘Esq’ in the address.

Apparently, this was a source of pride to his daughter, who used to boast about his status to her school friends. “My father’s an esquire. What’s yours?”. As you may guess, this made her feel special when he wasn’t bested.

Me, I have no history with ‘Esq’. I just like it.

I know it’s old-fashioned and, perhaps, a bit stuffy.

But, as you can tell from my partner’s story, it does have a bit of style about it. And it can give a man status.

Perhaps that’s not so surprising, when you learn that the term has its origins in the middle ages, when knights were addressed as ‘squire’ and ‘maidens’ swooned at the very sight of a lance.

And there was a time when people who owned property were accorded the title ‘Esquire’.

All in all, a title to be envied.

Nowadays, I gather, the style is either to dismiss suffixes altogether or address men as plain ‘Mr’, which seems unlikely to have quite the same Camelotian effect on today’s modern ‘Ms’, who sees herself as equal to any man in the joust of daily life.

As I say, I like ‘Esq’.

I will probably go on using it in much the same way as I would a silk top hat, which – assuming I were wearing one at the time – I would doff whenever I met a fellow gentleman in the street, whether he be a knight or a property owner.

To me, it’s all a matter of respect.

And I respectfully crave your indulgence – sir, squire, madam or ms – for this blog post; the first of what I hope will be many.

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