The following are a selection of my older blogs, posted previously, elsewhere on the internet.  I always attempt to keep my ramblings free of Politics and Religion as is always recommended by the great and the good.  However I make no bones about being a committed Christian whose political stance would have me to the right of both Margaret Thatcher and Attila the Hun and if I see something that makes my blood boil I have to release my feelings by writing about it.  I’m not sure where she gets the idea from but my other half, who has put up with me for well over 55 years, thinks that I have a strange sense of humour.  Moi?

We are all entitled to our own opinions and if you don’t like it – write your own website.  This one is mine . . .  . . . . .

Don’t stop me now!

Last April I wrote of the saga of having been given a total knee replacement for my left leg.  Traumatic, but a complete success.  I was able to bore anyone who would listen with tales of my fast recovery and convalescence.  I was so bad that just seven weeks after the op I was taking the new knee to the gym and in July I decided to recapture my youth by doing the “Fan Dance” which took me to the peak of Pen-y-fan the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons, without using a walking stick.

A couple of months later, using the crosstrainer at the fitness centre I received a ‘wake-up’ call when my right knee began telling me to stop with all too familiar pains.  The diagnosis my surgeon after looking at the x-rays was, “Oh my God”, not the most clinically correct description but I could only concur.

Fast forward until today, when I had a total knee replacement to the right leg   . . . . . . .  My talented surgeon (he apparently honed his skills during ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland when the IRA was providing him with knee-capped victims to practice on),  has promised a matching pair and I made him a solemn promise to take very good care of both.  That has set the scene . . . . . Now for the punch line.  I was going to entitle this blog “My Tena moment” but thought it could be considered sexist.

I had both my operations under an anaesthetic known as a spinal nerve block, not because I wanted to be awake to see and hear whether Holby City is true to life, nor even because of my nosey nature but simply because my surgeon decided that was what I should have.

Fascinating as it was I nodded off once I became bored – How cool is that?  I awoke 2 hours later in the recovery ward.  I could feel nothing below my waist and once back in my ward I thought that I had been sweating profusely because I appeared to be floating in a puddle.  Oh my God!  It wasn’t sweat.  The sweet young nurse said “No problem” and summoned her colleague to help strip off my gown, pants and bed clothes while I blustered to hide my shame.  Did I mention that I had left my dignity outside the hospital doors?

There is worse to come. . . . . . . . . .The two young lovelies stripped, washed and powdered me, reminiscent of one of my children or grandchildren, then like a fresh smelling baby they rolled my unfeeling body and just like a baby boy I performed like “Manikin Pis” and sprayed all the clean bed clothes and freshly laundered gown.

Could it get any worse?  Well an hour or so later freshly suited and booted and the feeling returning to my lower body, I am determined not to disgrace myself further and I am laying in bed with a urine bottle in firing position trying my damnedest to empty the bladder because frankly I am bursting.  Five hours later I still cannot perform – Zilch.  The rest of the ward is full of sleeping men, snoring, farting, belching and moaning – It’s midnight when relief beckons and at last the dam has opened – there really is no feeling to compare, Aaah, the relief!  Then I hear the sound of the approaching footsteps of the night staff nurse on her rounds probably to check if I have gone to sleep with my light on.  I must have lost it, because I shouted “Don’t stop me now”.  The guy in the next bed who I woke up along with the rest of the ward suggested that I was taking the P.

Suggestions please on whether a large box of Thornton’s similar to those handed over last year when I left will suffice this time or can you think of a more appropriate gift for the nursing staff.    I apologise if this has been too much information but I thought that you deserved a laugh at my expense. JC

“I Won’t Sing if You Won’t Dance”

I describe my friends Dan and Lulu whose pages of poetry are on pages which follow, as friends whom I have met along the way on my journey through life.  They have become very good friends and I am rather proud of their work.  When they told me that they were to write a book of poems in a joint venture I was more than pleased, and then really honoured to be asked to write a forward to be included in their book “I won’t sing if you Won’t Dance”.  In fact I was so chuffed that I include my Introduction below.  If you would like a copy of their new book you can order it on-line at: –


My friends Lulu Gurvitz and Dan Lake rather stumped me when they asked me to write a forward to their joint production of this book of poems because even though I am opinionated enough to write thousands of words annually on just about every subject imaginable, I am totally unable to make anything rhyme.

Since I was a youngster I have had a love of reading poetry, thanks to my brilliant English Master, Joe Richards, who told me that it was a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of poetry.

It was Joe who instilled in me a love of English in all of its forms and it was his fault that I embarked on my early travels as an apprentice on a cargo boat accompanied by six anthologies of poetry along with the works of Joseph Conrad, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.  You can imagine the stick that I had to put up with from my fellow mariners when they saw that my reading material differed greatly from their choice reading of the likes of Hank Jansen and Mickey Spillane.

Suffice to say that even on a fifteen month voyage around the world I was the only crew member not to run out of something to read.  Poetry has always given me great joy and even now with the memory beginning to fade as I get old I am still able to quote many lines from poems that gave me such pleasure in my youth.

Lulu, Dan and I met on a social networking website and quickly became friends.  I was so taken with Dan’s stories of his childhood that I offered to edit the autobiography that everyone told him that he ought to write and it was only later when he began sprinkling his regular blogs with some of his very deep and telling poems that I realised he had been hiding his light under a bushel.

Lulu has always astounded her friends with her poems.  She has an amazing talent to be able to put a story into a couple of verses that would take me a thousand words to match.  Not only that but her work-rate is phenomenal and is such that selecting choice items from all of her writings for this book could not have been easy.  Suffice to say these are some of the very best of both Dan and Lulu poetry.  They make me feel very inadequate as a writer and very humble to have been asked to introduce their work.

James Clark
October 2009

James Clark is a former Travel Journalist and Freelance Writer; the author of a number of books and although long retired still writes travel commentary and articles for national newspapers and magazines.  His Website may be found at   and this is where you may also find many more of Lulu and Dan’s poetry as they each have their own page.


Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer

2009 will be remembered as the year of compassion.  It started with dear Ronnie Biggs whose imminent death caused a u-turn by our humanitarian Home Secretary, who said that he would ‘die in jail’. Biggsie made a miraculous recovery shortly after being released.

This was followed by ‘Nothing to do with me, it’s those bloody Scots’ Gordon Browns’  release of the dying Libyan bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, on humanitarian grounds.  He later left his Libyan hospital to die at home.  He joined his family in a knees-up to celebrate.

Yesterday Simon Mann left his prison cell in Equatorial Guinea in a private jet when he was released by that noted humanitarian President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, on compassionate grounds.

I have already rattled my sabre at our corrupt and dishonest government over Biggs and Megrahi, whose release had Mandleson, Brown and Blair’s sticky fingers over it but what about Simon Francis Mann?  Mann, who is alleged to have been the leader of a failed coup d’état in Equatorial Guinea.

Mann was in a plane with 66 of his ‘buffalo battalion’ mercenaries which had stopped to refuel and collect some weapons in Zimbabwe.  They were bundled off of the plane and after 15 days of clandestine bargaining with the President of Equatorial Guinea and in spite of a High Court ruling in Harare, Mann was illegally spirited to Equatorial Guinea and Mugabe was gifted with millions of barrels of oil.
Once Mann arrived in Malabo, the rat-infested capital (my description) of the former Spanish colony, the delightful President Obiang vowed to sodomise his high profile prisoner before skinning him alive and parading his body through the city (that makes your eyes water just thinking of it).  Mann was sentenced to 34 years in prison and a £12 million fine.  It is not known whether or not he was buggered by the President but after just 4 years this compassionate dictator has granted him a full pardon.

Mann, an old Etonian former SAS Commander, an heir to a brewing fortune (think Watney Mann) served in Cyprus, Central America and Northern Ireland and finally in the first Gulf war.  He then set up Executive Outcome, delivering armed guards (mercenaries) to protect businesses in conflict zones.  The company earned millions from Angola’s government by guarding oil installations against the rebels.

He then set up Sandline International which was linked to supplying guns and ammunition to Sierra Leone while the country was under a U.N. Arms Embargo.  All very covert but he insists that his firm was scrupulous about operating in concert with Western Policy.  Does that not remind you off Oliver North and the CIA and their dirty work?

To those of you who don’t know where Equatorial Guinea is, if you can imagine the whole of Africa as being a human shape, it is situated under the right armpit between Cameroon and Gabon.  It gained independence in 1968 and since then has been ruled by just two men, both from the same family, both condemned by the World for brutal human rights abuses.  Obiang Nguema overthrew his uncle, President Francisco Nguema in 1979 and had him executed.  The horrors of the country were largely ignored until the mid-90s when large oil and gas deposits were discovered and suddenly had the World’s fastest growing economy.  However most of the loot from one of the World’s biggest oil producers does not benefit its people but is plundered by their leaders who deposit it in Swiss Banks and spend it on luxury homes and cars in France.

Could it be these riches that tempted a certain government to covertly back a coup d’état by these mercenaries to replace Obiang with their choice of government in exile who at present are based in Spain?  Could it be the string of tycoons and politicians, who financed the plot, might now be named and shamed?  Is that why Obiang has now decided to release Mann before New, New Labour is no longer in power.
Prominent cast members like Jack Straw, the then Foreign Secretary who had to admit to Parliament that his government were in fact aware of the planned coup d’état and that Slithy Toad, Lord Peter Mandelson who friend and confident, the Lebanese Millionaire Ely Calli, known to his cronies as ‘Smelly’. the alleged financial backer of the botched coup along with that other fine figure of the establishment, Sir Mark Thatcher known to his conies as ‘Scratcher’.

If President Obiang’s devious release of Simon Mann succeeds better than the coup and Mann does blow the whistle on his backers we could have more heads rolling in the Cabinet.  I have my doubts, but what is certain our government did nothing to try to secure Mann’s release having decided that he was safely out of the way rotting in the infamous Black Beach Prison. I suppose that Smelly and Scratcher could always follow Biggs and Megrahi with a visit to Lourdes in order to get a government sponsored miracle. Hail Mary full of grace. . . . . . .

I’m off up the yellow brick road to “Cry havoc! and let loose the dogs of war, that this foul deed shall smell above the earth. . . . . “.

Published 3rd November 2009 J.C.


There is no good war and no bad peace . . . .

All my life I have revelled in dangerous pursuits and peculiarly got a perverse kick out of asking myself, “What the hell am I doing here?” whether hanging from an overhang on a rock climb aptly named Cemetery Gates, or clawing off Les Casquets at the helm of an ocean racer. This week I did not take the same headstrong pleasure when I uttered nearly the same words while watching the residents of Wootton Basset on TV as they honoured our dead troops returning from Afghanistan. Seven troops killed in seven days. Can someone tell me what the hell we are doing there?

I should declare an interest as I have a number of good friends serving in the Royal Marine Commandos and no-one has told them what they are doing there. I have a relative who was a GP who felt strongly enough to take a sabbatical and volunteered as a medic to the anti-communist Muslim Afghan guerrillas (the mujahidin) who were then fighting against the Afghan government and the Soviet forces.

In those days the West considered that the mujahidin who call themselves ‘soldiers of God’ or ‘the Taliban’ were the good guys and they received funding from the American CIA. The Taliban is not a terrorist movement as is now claimed and demonised by western propaganda, but was founded as an Islamic religious movement dedicated to fighting Communism and the Drug Trade.

The current war in Afghanistan is not really about Al-Qaida and terrorism, but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West. The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off hostile natives. So we have had a deadly, bloody, conflict that has already outlasted the Second World War by nearly three years. WHY?

Our losses of UK troops now stand at 175 with hundreds more horrifically injured, and this is the war that former Defence Secretary John Reid assured us that would be over before now without a shot being fired, bloody politicians. Our troops are dying to prop up a floundering and corrupt regime under the US-installed Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. Doesn’t that remind you of the Carry On film ‘Carry on up the Khyber’ and a Sultan named Kharzi? If I remember rightly he turned out to be a bit of a S**t too.

Western war propaganda has so demonised Taliban that few politicians have the courage to propose the obvious and inevitable: a negotiated settlement to this pointless seven-year war. The Karzai government cannot extend its authority beyond Kabul because that would mean overthrowing the Uzbek and Tajik drug-dealing warlords and Communists chiefs that are the base of its power.

Barack Obama is wrong about Afghanistan and as usual, Gordon hasn’t a clue; it is not a ‘good’ fight against terrorism but a classic, 19th century colonial war to advance western geopolitical power into resource rich Central Asia. The Pashtun Afghans who live there are ready to fight for another 100 years, please God somebody tell Obama and Brown before we get yet another kick up the Khyber.

I am old enough to remember our politicians telling us that Jomo Kenyatta ate babies, Nelson Mandela was a murdering scumbag, Archbishop Makarios was an evil criminal, David Ben-Gurion massacred hundreds of innocents, and even that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness were solely responsible for all of the troubles in Northern Ireland. I now know that it is not just when politician’s lips are moving that they are lying; it is when they are breathing they are lying.

So don’t just tell us what the hell we are doing there, for God’s sake get us out of there.

P.S. I had to add the contents of a letter from today’s paper that I just wish I had written – Mr Bernie Adamson from Northampton wrote – We have soldiers arriving back in the UK in body bags almost daily with no sign of a Labour MP or their wives to receive them back from the war – but today at a Gay Pride march, there’s Sarah Brown complete with whistle and Pink Union Jack. . . . . . That says it all.

JC – Posted08/07/2009


A tall ship and a star to steer her by . . . . . .

I was going to entitle this piece “I once met Uffa Fox” but then thought that most people would never have heard of him . . . . . .hence my reference to tall ships, with which you may be more familiar.

The unusual name Uffa was in fact not a nickname but the one that he was he was christened with. He was one of my boyhood heroes. He was born in 1898 on the Isle of Wight and grew up on the Cowes waterfront. I suppose that he was best known as a boat designer and builder, he was a successful yacht and dinghy racer and took his knowledge and concepts to designing the very first planing racing dinghy, proving his designs by practical demonstrations. In 1928, racing his International Fourteen Footer in 57 starts gained 52 first places, two seconds and three thirds including winning the Prince of Wales Cup. He was forever coming up with new ideas.

During the Second World War he conceived the idea of the Airborne Lifeboat designed to be carried beneath aeroplanes and dropped by parachute to survivors of ditched aircraft. It had sails, engine, survival kit and an instruction book on how to sail. Years later when he was caught by Eamon Andrews for ‘This is Your Life’ he was confronted by dozens of aircrews who owed their lives to his invention.

He was a total eccentric, a wonderful raconteur and a fine singer of sea shanties (his CD of some of his singing is available on the RNLI website). He became a close friend and sailing companion of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and taught Charles and Anne to sail and photos of the Royals racing on the Dragon, “Bluebottle” and the Flying Fifteen, “Coweslip” with Uffa were everyday fodder to the media. He was married three times and his last was in 1958 when he married a French lady named Yvonne Bernard was typically Uffa. He spoke no French and Yvonne no English. (I just realised that that could be the recipe for a successful marriage, if Yvonne had been the first she may have been his only bride)

In the 1960’s I had been involved as an instructor with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme in both sailing and climbing. I later became a volunteer instructor in both pursuits with the Outward Bound Trust which is also closely associated with Prince Philip and in about 1968 I volunteered as an instructor on one of the Tall Ships Trust’s Schooners and sailed on the Sir Winston Churchill and The Malcolm Miller, navigating in a couple of Tall Ship Races, once to Malaga and then later to Vigo, on the Atlantic coast of Spain. On the Vigo trip we called in at Cowes where Prince Philip accompanied by Uffa came on board to greet us.

I am not sure whether or not it was my fawning adulation of the great seafarer, or whether any crew member would have been invited but that evening I found myself at the Commodore’s House overlooking Cowes harbour, a house designed by Uffa from a 300 year old warehouse specifically for his old age, with a lift to all three floors and the roof garden. It had brightly painted balconies and looked as though it would be more at home in Portofina. I had one of Uffa’s books with me called “The Joys of Life” which he kindly inscribed for me. He was the author of more than eighteen books but I think that The Joy of Life really summed up the man, not merely as a yachtsman and designer but as a writer, philosopher and larger than life character, the likes of which will never be seen again. Uffa Fox (1898 – 1972), gone to Davy Jones Locker but still dancing and singing on Fiddlers Green.

To my sorrow my memories of that evening in the company of the great man have somewhat misted over in a haze of pink gin and sea shanties but I can be very pleased that we both enjoyed the evening and each other’s company as fellow seafarers. You have the con . . . . . .

JC – posted 15th September 2009


Farewell and au revoir Keith Floyd

I usually can rely on my friend John from Leeds to come up with a decent obituary for the recently departed among the good or famous however today I have beaten him to it.

I was a huge fan of the effervescent and legendary chef Keith Floyd, he was probably my first and possibly only television hero, I still try never to miss his programmes and own all of his books. The nearest I got to meeting him was a few years ago when I found myself at a reunion at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and decided to pay a visit to his much publicised new acquisition The Maltsters Arms at Tuckenhay which was on the River Dart and quite nearby.

I was disappointed to find that Keith was away filming for TV and I had to make do with second best, some upstart superchef-in-waiting Jean-Christophe Novelli in the kitchen; little consolation for me who wanted to meet the man himself.

Gosh what a conversation we could have had while propping up his bar, we were both keen yachtsmen, fanatical rugger buggers even if he did support Bath, both lovers of clothes and who tried to dress with style, we both love women, good food, good wine, malt whisky, the Stranglers music and fancied ourselves as raconteurs. God what a story I could have told if only he had been there that day.

As it was, I settled down on Monday night to watch a Channel 4 documentary called Keith meets Keith in which Floyd was interviewed by actor Keith Allen at his house near Avignon last summer, incidentally a really enjoyable programme. Apparently Keith and his partner had also settled down to watch the same programme at that time and he has laid down on the sofa before it came on and simply stopped breathing.

As Marco Pierre White said on hearing of his demise, I am so terribly sad that he is no longer with us. I shall miss him very much. The world is a poorer place without him. A little piece of Britain died on Monday which will never be replaced.

He was an individual, he was a maverick, he was mercurial, he was magical, he was special, he was rare.

God Bless Keith Floyd. . . . . . . . .

JC – posted16th September 2009


It’s a Brown thing . . . . Brown must go!

As someone who calls himself a writer, I have always found plagiarism to be abhorrent. I suppose most forms of this illegal copying would only be noticed by the writer and would therefore not only go unnoticed but unpunished. However there are now simply hundreds of people stealing whole paragraphs from my recent Blogs on this medium, that I have now decided to use them like the government did during wartime and spreading the word by giving out false information.

It all began when I took a photo of one of my precious collection of memorabilia and began using the photo of a wartime poster, with a Ministry of Information Crown with the instruction to “Keep Calm and Carry On”. I used that picture as my SagaZone Blog Avatar, suddenly it’s being used in every newspaper and copies of the poster are available in the shops.

Coincidence, you say but then I publish a rant or two about Gordon and called him a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”, three weeks after my blog was published, Jeremy Clarkson has used the very same expression on air and is having to apologise. Another coincidence?

I had a rave about the sanctifying of Ted Kennedy and two days after my rant was published I read nearly the same words in two different newspapers even quoting the bit about “More People Died at Chappaquiddick, than at Three Mile Island”, another coincidence?

I wrote of my feelings about the war in Afghanistan and used a paragraph that I was quite pleased with, namely; “The current war in Afghanistan is not really about Al-Qaida and terrorism, but about opening a secure corridor through Pashtun tribal territory to export the oil and gas riches of the Caspian Basin of Central Asia to the West. The US and NATO forces in Afghanistan are essentially pipeline protection troops fighting off hostile natives. So we have had a deadly, bloody, conflict that has already outlasted the Second World War by nearly three years.” I ended that blog with; “Barack Obama is wrong about Afghanistan and as usual, Gordon hasn’t a clue; it is not a ‘good’ fight against terrorism but a classic, 19th century colonial war to advance western geopolitical power into resource rich Central Asia. The Pashtun Afghans who live there are ready to fight for another 100 years, please God somebody tell Obama and Brown before we get yet another kick up the Khyber.” I read my quotes nearly word for word in The Times nearly two weeks after I wrote them, another coincidence?

I wrote of the BBC cocking up a news report on the result of the Norwich North by-election and two days later a correspondent in the Daily Mail also picked up on it. Within an hour of listening to Kenny MacAskill on the TV telling us how he decided on the Libyan’s release, personaly and solely in the interests of compassion, and I wrote, nay ranted, about having Gordon’s fingerprints all over it and then the following day found that nearly all investigative journalists agreed with me.

They agreed with my raves about the Met Police failing to police the G20 summit, the Sheffield Police sending out policewomen in Burqas and Blunket’s Bobbies climbing in through windows of houses to teach householders about crime prevention. All coincidence, in fact the beautiful serene one assures me it is simply because most of the writers that I read are all similarly biased, right wing bigots like “wot I am” and so they come up with the same biased, right-wing bigoted tosh that I write.

So she took me away to cool down and get my head together and I am lying on a beach somewhere at a secret location that I am not going to divulge in case I read about it next week having been leaked from SZ and it becomes inundated by grockles.

I am reading a book by James May called ‘Car Fever’, he is one of my hero writers being similarly biased as I and I devour most of the good sense that he writes. I decided then and there to steal a few of his quotes on the ground that If you can’t beat em, etc.. . . . At least I am admitting it.

He, like me, does not believe in saving fuel, he does not even accept that driving is a necessary evil and should be done as cheaply as possible. Driving is not necessary at all, because trains and buses are very good these days and still cheaper in real terms. So you, yes you should all kindly use them and free up more road space for people like James May and I who actually enjoy cars. As cars are my hobby I can’t really object to having to spend money on petrol, rather in the same way that fishermen can’t object to having to buy maggots. Given the choice between a car I’d enjoy driving and one that would save me £10; I’d always spend the extra tenner.

There is even an environmental argument in favour of thirsty cars like mine. Everyone keeps telling me that burning fossil fuels is a bad thing and that it is destroying lives. In which case, surely it makes sense to drive something like my old Lexus or a 60’s American Muscle car and to do my bit to help rid the world of this stuff. That way it won’t be around to blight the lives of your grandchildren.

Going on to the title of my Blog today; James May had a chapter in his book that caught my eye straight away; I thought it brilliant and decided that this would be the eye-catching title for my next submission. I have amended it a bit because his was called simply ‘Brown must go’ but I thought that smacked of sounding a bit political and as you know I like to keep my politics to myself so I added the advice ‘It’s a Brown thing’.

Brown he reasoned was an unsuitable colour for a car because it is not one we associate with motion. Trees and fields are brown, so is organic matter where it is infinitely varied in hue and texture which is why it looks good on conkers and Labradors. It is also O.K. on a nicely aged chukka boot but in a solid and unrelenting form such as paint it just doesn’t work. If you park a brown car on your street the whole area is soon plunged into gloom and despair because the very colour sucks all light and proper colour from this formerly pleasant scene.

Brown is absolutely not the colour of progress. If you go into a museum of early domestic items you will see that the first steps into twentieth-century technology they made a mistake and all radios were made to match the dreadful brown furniture of the age. Early gramophones and televisions were wooden and hence brown as well. Even their knobs although they looked to be black were made of Bakelite and consequently were also very dark brown. Same goes for early domestic telephones, a nasty brown. Worst of all, all of these things were additions to the progressive home, not replacements for anything, so they merely added to the long established theme of brown.

Pre-war pubs have brown tiled floors and brown panelled walls. Old wallpaper was brown. When coal was burned the air itself was slightly brown. The world was dirtier then and as dirt is brown, brown was everywhere. However with modernity and new materials such as plastic, nylon, synthetic rubber and composites, technological pioneers were no longer obliged to use brown and as optimists they didn’t. Think of modern things that people are buying now; computers, iPods, plasma televisions, juicers, high-tech trainers, carbon fibre skis, mobile phones. I haven’t seen a single brown example. The same goes for any new aeroplane, railway locomotive or speed-boat.

The future is bright; it may even be orange but it certainly isn’t and never will be again, BROWN, and neither should your politician and certainly not your leader. I know that no-one did vote for him but ask yourself why would anyone want to vote for someone whose very name reminds you of Poo?

I was going to send a copy of this direct to the Annual Labour Party Conference in Brighton but why should I help them to solve their problems. I didn’t for two other reasons; 1. They would find some devious way of changing the one-eyed Scottish idiot’s name in order to convince us other idiots that they had a new and improved leader and; 2. They appear to have some way of stealing my good ideas directly from a mole inside SZ and they will not realise that I am now sometimes spreading misinformation.

Meanwhile I am off up the yellow brick road for some new ideas from the Wizard. . . . .

JC posted 28th September 2009



As a country boy I used to love leaning over a five bar gate in order to contemplate life.  Lately however I have more often found myself

sitting on the fence.  In the past I have always felt that “townies” should allow countrymen to get on with their country pursuits without interfering in matters of which they know little.

Personally I have no strong feelings for or against foxhunting but enjoy the spectacle of huntsmen in the ‘pink’, with their horses and hounds in the morning.  The mysteries of ferreting for rabbits or breeding grouse, pheasants and partridges to shoot for sport remain just that, a mystery.  My feelings that one should live and let live is no doubt a paradox.

While indulging in one of my country pursuits after a brisk walk in the woods, I was surfing the internet looking for a holiday, when I found a travel company who specialise in holidays for the hunting, shooting and fishing brigade.  Not being of that ilk but being incredibly nosy, I looked deeper to see how the other half live.

The descriptive blurb obviously intended to appeal to the more bloodthirsty, offered “ challenging, high volume turtle dove shooting in Morocco – a morning flight (of doves) for 3 or 4 hours and an evening flight for 2 or 3 hours, with a typical bag of 60 – 80 birds in one flight involving some 250 – 400 cartridges being fired”.  I could picture a Bravo Two Zero type of operation led by Sean Bean complete with a light machine gun.

Apparently these birds roost in the orange and olive groves near to the water and leave as the African sun burns off the early morning clouds and mist to feed on the maize and barley.  Then in the evening when the birds have been in the blazing sun all day and are desperate for a drink, they obligingly fly over the guns to find water.

The hotel accommodation sounds wonderful, offering peace (could it be symbolic of the dove), comfort and discreet charm.  The brochure does warn of many a sore shoulder bearing testament to just how prolific and exciting this shooting really is, and warns that the African sun rises at 6:00am and you need to be on your ‘peg’ by then, sunglasses and gloves on, earplugs in and bird boy at the ready.

The dawn flight is over by 9:00am when guns return to the hotel for breakfast and a day of relaxation.  For the second flight of the day, guns leave at 4:00pm returning at 7:30 pm in time for dinner.

Sportsmen and women eager to take advantage of such wonderful shooting will find that they are too late for this year because the season takes place in June and July, when shooting is only permitted by Moroccan law on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.

While guns are busy dove shooting, partners can use the facilities at the hotel including tennis court, riding, swimming, croquet, massage, aromatherapy and beauty care rooms for facial and body treatments, plus trips and excursions.

At a cost of around £4,000 per couple, which includes one gun, five nights at the hotel and all shooting, excluding flights (aircraft not doves), cartridges and tips.  At 400 cartridges per flight – 2 flights (of doves) per day for 4 days that is a lot of expensive ammunition, it certainly isn’t aimed at ordinary country boys and I cannot believe that townies would get out of bed at ‘sparrow’s cough’ to slaughter those dreadfully noisy birds.

This country boy now feels very guilty at his ‘morning chorus rage’ when I have been tempted to hurl a shoe from the bedroom window after being woken by those b****y birds starting their noisy courting rituals.

Perhaps the anti-hunt brigade does have a point, although here I am still sitting on the fence because like bullfighting only a Johnny Foreigner would do such a thing, it’s not British – Peace be with you!

JC 2008

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