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Friday, April 1, 2016

Zeros not Heroes, The Church of St Alban, The Village of Dibley

Zeros not Heroes
The latest massacres of innocent people by Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists have once again shocked the people of the world. Of course the bombers at Brussels Airport and in the Metro who murdered over 30 people and ruined hundreds more lives struck close to home (both geographically and culturally) and receive the lion’s share of the press coverage in the west. But scarcely a week goes by without another similar attack somewhere in the world – such as Lahore in Pakistan a few days ago where over 70 people were killed in a city park popular with children and their parents on Easter Day. It just goes on and on and has been getting worse. We need to attack the problem on two fronts: firstly to cut off the head (literally) that is masterminding the massacres; secondly reduce their ability to recruit impressionable locals (French, British, Belgian citizens, mostly of Muslim origin):

1. Cut off the head of the Hydra

I would like to see an intensification of the bombing of Daesh in Syria and a clear plan to eliminate what remains of Al Qaeda, The Taliban, and other such terrorist organisations which are dedicated to destroying our way of life. However, there will need to be more than just bombs dropped from the air to do this properly and our people will need to sign up to a decades of ground troops with the inevitable losses that follow. If the media glorify every soldier who is killed, we must resist demanding that our troops are brought back again until the mission is finished. We failed to finish earlier missions and this is, in part, why we see the horrendous situations of today. Unfortunately we can’t sit down and negotiate a solution with these Zeros (like we did with the IRA for example) as what they want – to change or destroy our way of life – is not something we will or should ever consider discussing. In Greek mythology, the Hydra was a multi-headed beast with poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly. Each time one of its heads was chopped off, the monster would grow more heads. The Hydra was eventually slain by Hercules using sword and fire, as one of his 12 Labours. 

2. Stop the participation of our own Nationals

Back at home, we must stop the radicalisation of poor, lost, impressionable youths who are only too happy to rally to the ‘islamist cause’ as portrayed by these gun wielding maniacs that run these terrorist organisations. These are clearly people who feel society has nothing to offer them and for some reason that is hard for us to understand, allow themselves to be indoctrinated to the extent that they are prepared to commit suicide in order to kill as many innocent people as possible. The Hydra attracts them. Hard to understand as even animals don’t behave this badly! But poverty and lack of opportunity is not an excuse for this sort of behaviour. I can’t and won’t try to explain it, but society does need to understand what is going on and act to stop these people going abroad to be trained and then coming back to kill us. Surely that can’t be so hard? There can’t be that many people who match this profile who go off to Syria, Afghanistan and the likes and then come back a few months later. Why can’t the authorities stop them or watch them and prevent these massacres? I would like to think that they are doing this to a certain extent already. Perhaps they are preventing many attacks now; we need our security forces to prevent them all.

For several years we have wanted to visit Dibley, the fictitious village where Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer’s iconic ‘Vicar of Dibley’ was filmed. This brilliantly funny series ran between 1994 and 2015 with Dawn French playing the leading lady (The Vicar). The series was unusually great in that the humour was made for all the family and the quality did not decline despite the fact that it ran for three series plus some specials. It was filmed in the beautiful village of Turville in Buckinghamshire, situated in between High Wycombe and Henley on Thames. As we regularly drive close by along the M40, we have wanted to visit for years and we eventually made it there, through beautiful woods and down a single-track road (fortunately no one came in the other direction or my car would have got stuck) and we parked in the village just past the church. The village houses and the church were immediately recognisable from the series, all beautifully preserved - although probably not as old as the first recorded date of the village – 796. We went inside the pretty church and although we didn’t see Geraldine or Alice, a lady was preparing the church for the evening service – they were expecting the Bishop – and welcomed us in. The Bishop’s visit no doubt explained the trail of lanterns leading to the front door. It took us a few minutes to walk the length of the village and admire the unspoiled beauty both man made and natural. On the top of the hill above the village is a windmill, the one used in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that many if us will remember from our childhood. It turns out that Turville is regularly used in films; some others filmed there include episodes of Lewis, Marple, Midsomer Murders and An Education.

Turville in Buckinghamshire with Windmill on the hill

As I was walking through The City (of London) one quiet Sunday, I noticed for the first time a strange structure stranded in the middle of Wood Street which is just off Gresham Street, close to The Barbican and Moorgate in the heart of The City. Surrounded by modern multi-story office blocks is something that initially resembles an old church except it is just a single tower. It turns out that this church, St Alban’s, was originally built in 930 or earlier, burned down in the Great Fire of 1666 and was rebuilt by Wren after the Fire in 1685. It then survived a further couple of centuries only to be largely destroyed by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz in 1940. All that remains is the single tower you can see today, situated on a traffic island right in the middle of the road, with modern buildings all the way round. In some ways it is striking, in others just typical of the old and the new juxtaposed across The City. I believe it is now a private residence, and what a place to live! Have a look next time you are in the area. I wonder how many thousands of busy people rush past every weekday without taking the time to notice it?

Formerly the church of St Alban in The City

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