Monday, February 16, 2015

West Country Wassail

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson - from Norfolk.
Through Southern England on the train from London  to Plymouth on a cold, sunny Winter’s day. The train passes Aldermaston, the atomic weapons establishment, the British Y-12, where  Bertrand Russell and others vented their spleens, founding the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958. In an equine interlude we nip past Newbury racecourse, which was a German POW camp in World War II, and onto the Bronze Age Uffington White Horse on the Berkshire Downs.  Past Stonehenge then through some curiously-named places: Littleton Panell, Marston Magna, Nunney, Potterne, Urchfont. Next is Glastonbury (the world’s largest rock festival), Taunton and Exeter. My train, arrives at Plymouth, where my daughter, Serena meets me.

We’re in the West Country now, and the people are somewhat annoying.  First and foremost, there’s no decent football team here for hundreds of miles. Then, some of the locals claim their accent to be at the origin of Americanese.  But I know that the dialect of Norfolk, where I come from, has the closest ties to that of Eastern New England; I don’t care whether Plymouth, MA came before Norwich, CT. What’s even more galling, though, is that they claim to have had Britain’s greatest sea-dog, Francis Drake. Now, we from Norwich had the brilliant Nelson (above), who single-handedly thrashed Napoleon. This guy Drake, supposedly a Vice Admiral (but really a pirate) was (or wasn’t) playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe in 1588 when informed of the approaching Spanish Armada. He (maybe) said there was plenty of time to finish the game before sailing out to singe the beard of the King of Spain, or whatever….Peasant!

Monday, February 9, 2015

When I had the measles...

...back in the 1960s there was no vaccine. Of course, like all the other kids, I also got the mumps and chicken pox (then, annoyingly, shingles) . Was never a big deal; created those moments of closeness between mother and young child that reappear in the core of your mind in your fifties.

 So what is all this fuss about measles vaccines about?

Well, I don't like forcing people to do anything. But they must take responsibility for their actions.

So here's my suggestion:

 - no mandatory vaccinations, but

 - those who do not vaccinate their children bear the legal and financial liability for the harm that they thus cause to others, via increased insurance premiums and collective exposure to law suits from those harmed.

 Why is such a solution not being discussed?