Crusade in Europe by Dwight D. Eisenhower

EisenhowerThis is a must read book if you have any interest in history and especially WWII and after as so much of this book relates to the most significant event in Human history.

As a Brit we’re used to reading things from our perspective and so much has been shaped in this by Churchill of course. So to read the American viewpoint is illuminating to say the least. And not only because Eisenhower shows that he is a master diplomat who is used to persuading people of his point of view without upsetting them afterwards. No wonder Montgomery got so frustrated at times. It also shows that there were some wacky ideas floating around and there of course were at times sharp differences between us and them as you’d expect.

One thing Eisenhower, and Roosevelt and other leading Americans for that matter, are good at is putting such a gloss on their view of the world to our detriment. I was struck recently by the comments of AJP Taylor who pointed out that (in summary) Roosevelt and the Americans wanted to supplant Britain and the Empire and drove a hard bargain not only in the Lease/Lend agreement but also after the war in the Marshall loan that took us until 2008 to pay off. Not very good friends were they?

This is also reflected in this book as Eisenhower tends to talk about The Brits as an aside and over emphasises American (supposed?) prowess. One thing that did shock me was his references to the American problems with race and the British attitude which was markedly different. There troops were cautioned about this before any of them landed in England.

There are many books that can change your attitudes and opinions and this is one of them. I’m a lot more suspicious of Americans now that I have read this and they definitely have had or have a agenda to marginalise us. I can understand some of the conversations I used to have with my Grandfather on this years ago and I never really agreed with him on some of his viewpoints because of course, he had met and experienced most of what was in Eisenhower’s book, and apparently seen the Yanks run off during The Battle of the Bulge.

Another reason for reading this is that if you like “Grand Strategy”, this book is definitely for you. We were planning for managing Germany in early 1944 after we had defeated them. Eisenhower wanted a unified command whilst we ended up with a partitioned Germany. Here lies the ambition of Eisenhower revealed.

Pub #10: The Fountain, Walsall


An excellent way to bring up double figure with a visit to one of Walsall’s best.

Got to be 5/5 for ambience, beer selection and quality and pleasant staff.

Can’t wait to go back.

Pub #9: Tap & Tanner

We ended up here to watch the Grand National and not the most pleasant of pubs mainly due to the lairy clientele but what do you expect in a Sport Bar? I agree with Stymaster about this one

However, the beer wasn’t bad and it was fairly smartly decorated so a 3/5.

RIP Richie Benaud

One of the icons of the great game died today – Richie Benaud. Along with Jonners and Jim Laker, he was one of the men who was the sound of an English summer for me and many of my generation. He had a laconic and corporate style. No wonder the broadcasters loved him so much. Summers were not complete without the Test highlights and Benaud. I’ve missed Benaud since he retired over here ten years ago now but you have to accept that time is forever moving onwards so it was a sad day when he left and sadder when he died.

If you love the game, you should read his Benaud on reflection (1984) which is an interesting viewpoint of cricket up to 1984 but reflects one of the major shifts in it – the post Packer ear which Benaud was part of. It’s also interesting to read cricket through Australian eyes and realise the passion they have for the game that sometimes gets lost over hear with the Premier League taking so much of sports time. I guess that’s because the weather is so much better in Oz that it offers more chances to play than we get.

The Australians regard him in the same respect as Bradman which is high praise indeed and their PM offered a state funeral. I can’t see any British sportsmen or women being offered that accolade ever. It just shows how much Benaud transcended into the psyche of Australians and how different it is over here for people to make such an impact.

Easter 2015

This Easter has been all the usual stuff that this time of the year brings . A time for cleaning out the winter and a time for renewal as Spring progresses into summer. And this year has been no exception. I have spent most of the past week cleaning the house and doing some of the niggly DIY jobs that take an inordinate amount of time to accomplish small wins such as fixing the shelf over the lounge radiator which wasn’t fitted properly and over the winter sagged due to the heat and the lack of support in the middle. I’ve also managed to get the porch door fixed so it glides rather than having to be manhandled.

Another crap job was steam cleaning the kitchen. Considering how much I cook with my beloved wok, the kitchen does need a lot of degreasing from time to time.

However, the biggest challenge has been just generally cleaning the house which means moving all the furniture around and using the vacuum to the point of having to let it cool down before proceeding further.

Of course there has been family time too – and on Easter Sunday the Subbuteo came out for first time in twenty years and a tournament was held. No surprises that my Dad won. Definitely a day to remember after a superb lunch courtesy of my Sister  and Brother -in- law. All round, an excellent break!



Honey Pot

One of the burdens of using the Internet is of course it’s open to everybody and therefore it attracts users who have a different agenda – I’m talking of course of the spammers and hackers.

So, juts to give you notice, I’ve joined the Project Honey Pot  in an attempt to help get these people off the Internet.

Here are some interesting statistics about spamming this week:

225,359 harvesters
373,498 search engines
103,869,974 spam servers
1,106,878 comment spammers
26,221,995 dictionary attackers
26,680 rule breakers

Note the figure about the number of spam servers!



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A Night out in The Black Country

Last weekend I fought off the spring virus to go and see my mate Jim at The Hollybush in Cradley Heath perform his “Jimmy Frinton” act at the comedy club there.

It’s strange seeing a mate on stage doing comedy – it explains a lot of what went on at the University when we worked together.

That aside, it was a good laugh and well worth going especially to see the “Baby of Shaboo” sketch. The other acts were also hilarious especially the Scottish comedian (who is a Fringe performer) who told a tale of love in the Black Country involving a day saver.

I’m looking forward to going again.

The Clarkson Affair: a reflection on the current British struggle?

I’m surprised there hasn’t been anything posted about this so I’ll kick things off. Sometimes you need an outsiders point of view to see things clearly and I was most impressed by this article written by Kenen Malik in the NY Times. I think he summarised the whole incident very well so I’ll leave it at that.

However, he does raise the question raised by Nige some time ago about controlling free speech. How perceptive is that?

A great Sporting weekend

A full weekend of sport the like of which I haven’t since last summer or really remember in the pre-Sky TV days saw me off to the pub on Friday night for an old boys reunion to watch Wolves beat Derby 2-0. Good game, too much beer and heaving cleavages on show in the pub all made it a bit hazy really.

Onto Saturday and the climax of the Six Nations. Despite all the chores I had to do such as getting the nearside tyre fixed and get some food in, I did manage to watch all three games and thoroughly enjoyed them. I did believe for a minute that England were going to do it but it was just a mad game against the French, but at least we beat them. Ireland always looked the better to me over the whole tournament, but we were close. We may be on a good position now in regard of the World Cup.

So onto the climax of the weekend and the trip to Wembley with Walsall. An early start, a drive to Uxbridge and a pleasant breakfast with the Bristol City fans saw seven of the family see Walsall go down 2-0. Having never been to the new stadium, I have to say it is a reflection on how much things have moved on in terms of events and stadia: Wembley is much more like the O2 and other arenas now and focusses on the peripheral of the “customer experience”, not just the event itself. The only difference is grass and it was cold! Outside of the seating “bowl” it is pretty much like the O2 or Manchester Airport. And very little Bovril! However, the Brother – in –  Law did make the BBC website after being interviewed!

The game was worthy of a final and Walsall did themselves no harm despite the inability to finish. They played the more attractive football but all the passing around and neat forward play is of no use if you can’t put the ball in the back of the net. And why Romaine Sawyers is on the pitch is beyond me as he has little discipline even in a free role he seems to adopt. He’s never in the same place twice and if I was on his side I would be infuriated as there is no consistency in his play despite an admirable work rate.

Bristol City had a powerful team that took their chances very well so deserved to win. Walsall could have had an equaliser had Cook’s cross gone the other off the post. Well – that’s the vagaries of football for you and why it’s such a draw.

A very packed train back to Uxbridge and a stop at Oxford services saw us late back from a great day out – and I’m very tired today!