The Weather and Initiative

After a few days of pleasant temperatures, described as a ‘heat wave’ by some sections of the Media, I woke to see that familiar dank mist drifting over Dartmoor. One newspaper assures me that temperatures are due to plummet over the next few days and the cricket semi-finals are likely to be rained off, another tells me that the heatwave will continue and probably get worse.

I think I will nip next door and ask my neighbour Graham. He has lived on the Moor for well over half a century so is likely to be a far better forecaster than any modern technology.

Now that we are in the middle of summer, not a week goes by without news of a tragedy taking place somewhere along Britain’s coastline. Yet over the past few days, two Devon coastguards have been fired and two have resigned in disgust from the service they have been part of for many years.

In the latest incident, the officer in charge at Croyde – wherever that may be – quit in disgust after 32 years when he was reprimanded and told that he would have to undergo retraining. A lady officer with him who had 18 years service also resigned. Their ‘crime’ was to take an injured teenager to hospital in a van rather than waiting for an ambulance which would have taken up to two hours.

They used the officer in charge’s own van, but strapped the lad to a coastguard stretcher so that he didn’t roll around in the rear of the vehicle. This of course was ‘unauthorised use of government property,’ and the fact that they were saving a life had no bearing on the matter.

I have faced men in war, have been charged by elephant and lions and on one occasion, had crockery hurled at me by an large and angry husband when attending a domestic dispute, but none of those incidents were half as frightening as the power wielded in this modern world by faceless desk jockeys who go by ‘the book of rules,’ no matter what.

In the other coastguard incident, the pair were dismissed for pulling another car away from a cliff. I suppose they were risking damage to coastguard property again but whether that was the vehicle they were using or themselves, I am not sure.

Talking about the pettiness of the bureaucratic mind, I have long ranted about the petty-minded intransigence of the current prime minister. Now I see that five former commissioners of the Metropolitan Police have called on the new prime minister – who seems likely to be Johnson – to take a stand on police funding and practice. One of them Lord Stephens of Kirksomething-or-the-other has gone further and laid the blame for the current crime wave and the sorry mess that policing has become in Britain firmly at Theresa Maybe’s feet. As plain John Stephens and then Sir John, he was probably the last of the practical old-timer cops and did a fine job with the Met so he knows what he is talking about. Like me and many thousands of former cops, he must cringe at some of the reports we read about policing today.

She might have been a long-serving Home Secretary but she was also a damned useless one. Almost single-handedly, she alienated the entire police force and her insistence on reducing ‘stop and search’ on the streets has had a direct impact on the current surge in knife crime.

Truly the woman was a disaster and the sooner someone else takes over the reins – even if it is Johnson – the better for us all.

It would have been nice to have the first black African astronaut going up into space but sadly it is not going to happen for a while. Mandla Maseko who was 30 and being trained at a space academy in America managed to kill himself in a motorbike accident before he could fulfil his dream. In 2013, the South African Air Force member beat one million entrants to win one of 23 places at the space academy.

Nicknamed Afronaut and Spaceboy, Maseko described himself as a typical township boy from Pretoria. He said he wanted to do something that would motivate and inspire young people in Africa and prove that they could achieve anything whatever their background.

He told the BBC he planned to call them from space. “I hope I have one line that will be used in years to come – like Neil Armstrong did,” he said.

The US astronaut, who died in 2012, was the first man ever to walk on the Moon in 1969.

As he stepped on to the lunar surface, he famously said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Well, we will never know what Mandla Maseko would have said but he was obviously a fine young man and South Africa – indeed all of Africa – can be proud of him.

I wonder what immortal phrase I could use about weather forecasters in general. Sadly, I am lost for words!

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