An Alphabet Of my Life: S


This S is about the applications of science in my lifetime. Things that were unimaginable when I was born are commonplace now. Some of those are materials; things like Teflon, Polyurethane, Velcro, Waterproof Fabrics, Memory Foam, Polyester. They have provided advances in comfort, ease of use, preserving and cooking food, and in safety wear for those working outside. Unfortunately, they have also contributed to landfill, the pollution of the oceans, and even microparticle contamination of human bodies.

Everything we invent comes with a price, it seems.

Medical science has exceeded all expectations since my birth in 1952. Birth control, In Vitro Fertilisation, Open-Heart Surgery, Genetics, DNA, Artificial Valves, Pacemakers, Organ Transplantation, and Micro-Surgery. The eqipment and expertise to care for a premature baby that would previously have died. Drugs to control Diabetes, Epilepsy, and many other life-changing or life-threatening conditions. Add to that the advances in Scanning, Medical Lasers, the ability to operate on babies in the womb, and an adult from 1952 would find it hard to comprehend the amazing possibilities 70 years later.

Life expectancy has extended significantly since I was born. Average life expectancy in 1952 in Britain (male and female lifespans combined) was 69.17 years. 70 years later, it is now 81.65 years. That has brought with it a huge number of problems. The increase in elderly people with Dementia. The problems of caring for the elderly and disabled in their own homes, or in dedicated old people’s homes. Hospitals full of old people who cannot be easily discharged after breaking bones or having major surgery. The cost of paying pensions to so many more people who lived much longer than expected, and the reduced birth rate failing to supply enough working people to pay the National Insurance and Taxation required to fund such an ageing population.

Back to everything we invent coming with a price.

There are other scientific achievements in my lifetime that were less desirable.

Atom bombs were replaced by nuclear bombs, and those in turn replaced by thermo-nuclear bombs. Military weapons became more advanced, and the ability to kill more people from a greater distance is the darker side of ‘progress’ during the last 70 years.

(Technology will be dealt with in ‘T’.)

New London ‘Death Camp’ will be ready soon

Reblogging this from my other political blog because I think it is important for more people to see it.


Much has been made of the fact that the government is rushing to convert an existing conference and entertainment venue into a new ‘Hospital’. They are working hard in East London’s Excel Centre to create two ‘wards’ that will each accommodate 2,000 people. They have even given it a nice name, ‘The Nightingale Hospital’.

Does that sound good to you? Well it doesn’t to me.

I would like to know how they expect to treat 4,000 people lined up together in a massive space that is one kilometre long. How will they keep them apart at a safe distance? Will there be respirators for those needing life support? (Unlikely) Where will they find the doctors and nursing staff to treat them? (Answer, The Military)

So what we have here is a place where those who are expected to die are going to be sent to, to do just that. In…

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Muckleburgh Part Three: Other exhibits

The famous Willys Jeep. The workhorse of the Allied armies during WW2, used for everything from transporting wounded, to carrying supplies.
All photos are reduced files, but can still be clicked on for detail.

An American half-track personnel carrier and support vehicle. They could be adapted to carry larger guns, and also for use as anti-aircraft gun platforms. One of the most widely-used vehicles of WW2.

British Rapier anti-aircraft missile delivery system. Since 1971, this has been the primary anti-aircraft weapon used by the UK, and remains so to this day.

A Hawker Siddely Harrier aircraft. Developed in Britain, and also used by many other countries. This was famous as the ‘Jump-Jet’ fighter-bomber, from its capability to take off and land vertically. It was used on land and at sea, and saw service in the Falklands War against Argentina.

The infamous German V-1 jet-propelled bomb, and a Royal Air Force radar installation behind.
Developed during WW2, this was launched from bases in northern Europe, and targeted against London from 1944. A simple device, it carried just enough fuel for the short journey to Britain’s capital. When that ran out, the bomb would drop out of the sky, with a devastating impact on anything below. Also known as ‘The Flying Bomb’, or ‘Doodlebug’, the appearance of these in the sky would terrify Londoners, due to the random nature of the eventual target.

I hope that you enjoyed these posts about one of my local museums. There will be others to come, featuring different places.

Muckleburgh Part One: Tanks


In the first of a three-part series of photos that I took at the Muckleburgh Military Collection, this post will deal with the Tanks on display there.

At the suggestion of helpful fellow bloggers, and with some detailed telephone coaching from my good friend Antony, I have managed to significantly reduce the size of these files. However, they can still be clicked on, and enlarged for detail.

An American Abrams tank, widely used in ‘Desert Storm’.

British heavy tanks, post-war.

A US M47 Patton tank, in Arabic markings from desert warfare.

A British Comet tank, used at the end of WW2.

A Sherman tank in US markings.

Front machine-gun detail from the above tank.

A Russian T-34 from WW2.

A Russian heavy tank with Swiss markings.

A British Scorpion light tank.

An American M-24 Chaffee tank. Used at the end of WW2, and in Korea. (Sherman behind)

I hope that all fans of armoured vehicles enjoyed this post. The next time, look out for armoured cars and artillery.

Norfolk Tourism: Muckleburgh


My recent trip to the Lake District has inspired me to discover more about the area where I live, and to make the effort to visit those places much closer to Beetley that I have so far neglected.

Yesterday, I set off to see The Muckleburgh Military Collection, which is close to Weybourne, a very attractive village on the coast of North Norfolk. I went alone, as this place is of little interest to Julie, and left Ollie at home too, so I would not have to leave him outside. This area has been the site of defences since the time of the Spanish Armada, and was used extensively during both world wars. It was an artillery base from 1936 until as recently as 1958, specialising in anti-aircraft defences and training. The camp is still used today by the RAF, who operate a radar receiving station there. Because of this, much of the area is out of bounds, and owned by the Ministry of Defence. Walking around is discouraged, as some parts still have live land mines present.

It was opened as a museum in 1988, and houses exhibits in the original buildings, as well as operating Tank Drives and rides in military vehicles outside, in the high season. Over 150 tanks, armoured cars, and artillery pieces can be seen there, as well as other light vehicles, displays of personal weapons, and shells. Separate exhibits show medals and uniforms, and also feature the local regiment The Suffolk and Norfolk Yeomanry. There is a large collection of models too, as well as some dioramas.

I took over sixty photos during my visit, and they will feature in a series of blog posts to come.
If you can’t wait, here is a link to their website.

A death in the family

On Sunday afternoon, Julie’s dad died suddenly. He had enjoyed a traditional Sunday lunch , followed by a nap, and he was at home, with his wife, and sister-in-law. Something happened, yet to be determined, and he died almost immediately. Paramedics and Ambulances attended, but were unable to save him. We drove down to Watford, a journey of three hours, and Julie was able to see him, and say her farewells. Aubrey Francis Clarke was 83 years old. He was a family man, and loved nothing more than the company of his wife, three daughters and son, as well as his grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

There is no point looking for Frank’s obituary in The Times, or The Guardian. He was not an actor, playwright, or distinguished musician, or even a politician. He was a man who worked hard all his life, to give the best chances to his family, and to enjoy his life as best as he could. After losing his first wife to cancer, at a tragically early age, he married again, and raised his family of four, from the house where he died on Sunday. He served his country in the Royal Lancers, something he was always very proud of, and later became a postman, then a civil servant, until retirement. He was a man of humour, and a man interested in life, and history. He loved to research his family tree, to study military history, and he enjoyed collecting coins, and stamps. He was a man with a twinkle in his eye, mischievous and cheeky; he loved to pull gags on his family, telling the younger ones that he had been a Roman soldier! He delighted in family occasions, and though he was a ‘firm but fair’ dad, he was loved immensely by his children.

I knew him for 12 years. He was always pleased to see me, and would ask about my work, or more recently, retirement; and he treated me like I had always been one of the family. I will miss him in my own way. Yet still, he should be missed, as men like him are a rarity. He did not drink excessively, did not fight, or abuse and neglect his family, or his responsibilities. He was loving to his wife, his children, and to his extended family. He had strength, dignity, and bearing, that are all a tribute to his background, and to his upbringing. It is lives such as Frank’s that should be remembered, whether he was a celebrity or not. He was a good man, and will be remembered as such. Surely, nobody could ask more from a life.