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In my memory about the only month when some summer sunshine was more likely than gloom laden skies and rain in my childhood was May. If a bookie was taking a bet on which months in Scotland would have more than a total of 30 hours of blue skies and sunshine, then he would probably refuse to accept any bets on May. The summer school holidays, in my memory at least, were a lottery when it came to sunshine. No great surprise then that the BBC summer holiday morning TV schedule was heavily watched. Year after year the schedule was almost entirely the same bill of foreign fare, and not always well dubbed. Best of all was The Flashing Blade from France, at least until our heroes reached The Castle. Robinson Crusoe, also a French offering, was also not bad. But France's Belle and Sebastian was just pure boring: right up there with White Horses, was that German or Yugoslavian? Anyway, it was boring too. For cheap scary camp, Germany's Singing Ringing Tree has to take the prize. If that didn't put a kid off evil dwarfs, nothing would. I think most people in Scotland in the years it was on TV knew that at least one Scottish regiment stationed in Germany was known to the locals as The Poison Dwarfs. Was the Boy from Lapland, the one with the catchy Scandinavian yodelling in the theme tune, on the summer schedule? I think it was, but I could be wrong.  Ah, those dreich summer holiday mornings. That was before every cartoon had an annoying brat character that the viewing kids were supposed to identify with. Can anyone remember Scrappy Doo without wanting to puke? 

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I don't know, there's just something about the sale of Victoria Cross for around six hundred thousand Canadian dollars, around four hundred thousand pounds, that makes me uncomfortable. It is only a piece a metal and it's not as if it's the guy who actually won it that's being forced to part with it because he's hit hard times. The VC in question was won by Canadian tank commander Major David Currie during the Normandy Campaign in August 1944. The notoriously modest Currie always insisted until his death that the medal really belonged to all the men who served under his command as they tried to staunch a massive German retreat they stood in the path of. His widow sold the medal to a Canadian collector. I don't know what he paid for it. But we do know it has just been resold to a British collector. I don't know why the medal was sold this time around or why the British collector wanted it so much. I can understand why the widow might have sold it. Acts of bravery do not pay the rent. Though, if she took her husband's words to heart, she would have tracked down all Currie's men and shared the proceeds of the sale with them. I presume the medal was sold for more than the Canadian collector paid for it. Maybe that's what's troubling me. Why, I ask myself, should someone with enough spare cash to buy a medal profit by another man's courage? Or in this case, according to the recipient himself, other men's courage? Pieces of medal are one of way of recognising outstanding performance in the service of the nation. But perhaps a decent lifetime pension might be better. Towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign as far too many rank-and-file winners of the award that bears her name went to paupers' graves, a decent pension was instituted - somewhere between fifty and seventy-five pounds a year.  Last I heard, the pension, officially an annuity, was just over fourteen hundred pounds a year.

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So, Burmese leader Aung San Suu Ky is baffled by almost unanimous worldwide condemnation of her handling of the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya- basically a denial that it's happening. I am also puzzled by the sudden flood of condemnation - what took the international community so long to revoke her Mandela-like sainthood? Aung has always been a bit dodgy. Are world leaders really just waking up to this? What do they pay their embassy staffs and spies for? Did they hope that even Aung would stop short of condoning the military-sponsored ethic cleansing of Myanmar's Muslim community and they would not have to speak out? A year ago, Aung told a BBC interviewer that now that she was in a power-sharing partnership with the Burmese military that she wasn't going to jeopardize her electoral support by supporting the Rohingya. And I've always wondered who called the cops when a misguided American swam a lake to see her while she was still under house arrest a couple of years ago. I've long suspected Aung initiated the call to her jailers and dropped that poor Yank in the smelly stuff. If Aung's father hadn't been part of the military junta which seized power after the Second World War, I don't think anyone would have ever heard of her. As I said here a couple of weeks ago, if she hadn't been a girlie, she would have been part of the military dictatorship long ago without all that bothersome posing as a paragon of democracy and humanity for so many years. 

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I recently heard the BBC World Service refer to Richard III, who died in 1485, as a British monarch. I hold to the belief that James VI of Scotland became the first authenticated British monarch when he succeeded Elizabeth I of England in 1603. The BBC was just reflecting the difficulty many English people have in differentiating English from British. The Scots, Welsh, and a chunk of Irish folk are also British. I was truly appalled during the Scottish Independence referendum by the coverage carried out by the BBC's so-called National correspondents. They hadn't a clue about what was going on in Scotland. Their ignorance was mind-numbing. Yes, the English do make up the vast bulk of the British population. But there is a significant proportion of it who are not English. Organisations such as the BBC often confuse English with national. That is not a mistake the Scots, Irish, and Welsh make very often. The Scots and Northern Irish have English laws and procedures rammed down their throats daily by the so-called national media. Scots, brought up on a constant diet of English courtroom drama, are astonished to find fifteen of them are required for a jury in their own country. The Northern Irish, Welsh and Scots often have to be aware of two systems of government, the English and their own. Many English people, through no real fault of their own, know little of life beyond their own borders. I respectfully submit that unless National means English, then the BBC should be looking only to Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland for journalists qualified to cover British affairs. 

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So, why are people so surprised that Burmese politician Aung San Suu Ky isn’t planning to lift a finger to stop the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar? She basically told a BBC interviewer a year ago that there were no votes in helping the Rohingya Muslim minority, so she wasn't interested. And there must be a suspicion that she actually approves of the mistreatment of a group of people many of her fellow countrymen and women regard as illegal immigrants. She is after all pretty much a chip off the old block when it comes to military dictators, her political career is built on her turncoat general of father being one of the founders of present-day Myanmar. Possibly the only reason why she was not a member of the military dictatorship which supposedly recently bowed to democracy was that she was born a girlie and couldn’t be a general. Some argue that she is unable to control the military which is leading civilian mobs in murdering and raping Rohingyas before burning down their villages. She claims this is all “fake news”. The use of that term gives us a measure of the woman. If she genuinely does not have the power to stop the ethnic cleansing then she should have the guts to stand-down and show what a sham democracy Myanmar is. Instead she is acting as a fig leaf and apologist for her fathers’ old chums and their successors. But in one thing she is correct – there is now an armed Rohingya insurgency. And the Burmese military is playing right into their hands by grossly over-reacting to their provocations. Classic mistake.

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