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When I was around 10 years old we used to live on what was basically a building site. Our house was one of the first to be completed on a pretty substantial new housing estate. It was being built, by the way, by a company that had originally made its money running whaling ships out of Leith. Anyway, there wasn't a lot, apart from playing football at The Atlas Park, for kids to do. But there were a lot of empty oil drums on the building site. So, guess what we did? Yep, we used to cram ourselves inside old oil drums and roll down the hill until we hit the wall of a house under construction at the bottom. Do kids still do that kind of thing? Or are they too busy on their smart phones?

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The fellah in the poster’s standing there pipe in hand and his two mates are warming themselves by a roaring fireplace. What’s he selling? Why, a life in the Australian Army. The selling point is Comradeship. I reckon from the battledress that the three are wearing that the recruiting campaign must have been in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The poster is a bit different from most. They tend to feature The Missing Man, or What Did You Do in the War Daddy?, or A Square Meal and Plenty of Time Playing Football with Training for a Civilian Skilled Trade , or Be Part of A Proud Tradition, or Travel and Adventure. Roaring log fires and pipe smoking at the hearth and a promise what the Aussies these days I think call Mateship is an interesting approach to recruitment.

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If chattering classes dominated radio is to be believed then the most pressing issue in Afghanistan today is female education. Nope. The average Afghan father is way too poor to send his daughters to high school or university and not being able to do so is the least of his worries. And, anyway, education for most boys doesn't go much beyond learning to recite the Koran by heart. No, only the urban elite could afford to send their daughters to university. But that is who our western media identify so strongly with. Diversity in newsrooms is thought of only in terms of skin tone or sexual preference. But a Home Counties Pony Club lesbian whose parents come from overseas is indistinguishable on the radio from one whose ancestors have lived in Hampshire for centuries. By the way, the Taliban strongly identified girls' education with the western military. I seem to recall that the prime reason, almost the only one, given to the public as to why Canadian and British youngsters were being killed and maimed in Afghanistan was girls' education. So, perhaps no surprise the Taliban regime has curtailed it so drastically.

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Years ago I saw a documentary about an American black doctor taking his daughters to West Africa to celebrate their heritage. I can't remember if he knew for sure that his ancestors came from the country he chose for the family expedition. Perhaps he'd hired some scam family tree expert who claimed to know. Anyway, this fellah was immensely proud of his slave ancestors and of his own professional success. The thing is that at every turn during his African trip he was swindled and cheated by the locals. All they saw was another rich gullible Yank. Skin tone counted for nothing to them.

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Last week I heard some classic hubris. A radio presenter was recounting on air how her waitress was worried about flitting after a light snowfall. "I told her I read the weather forecast on the radio and that there would be no snow left by the time of her move," recounted the presenter. Maybe I'm being too harsh and she just meant that she kept a regular eye on the forecasts. But it came across as suggesting some expertise in the meteorology. I would no more take this woman seriously regarding forthcoming weather than I would take medical advice from an actor who declares "I am not a doctor but I play one on television". You may well wonder how such a piece of self-regarding banality as the waitress story came to be broadcast. Indeed. But these are same people who believe the solution to the Cost of Living Crisis is simply to pick up a smaller size skinny latte on the way to work.

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