Day 12: Mytchett to Barkham


I was told it was bad manners to wish anyone dead, but perfectly acceptable to read obituary notices with pleasure. It is in this context I come to the news of Mugabe’s death.

He had a choice: either to rule like Nelson Mandela or turn into a tin-pot crook like so many of his colleagues. He chose the latter. When measured against Hitler and Stalin, he was a small, bad man, but bad enough to massacre 20,000 civilians and steal everything not actually nailed to the ground. A charismatic little sod who turned his beautiful country into a racist ruin and left nothing of material value in his passing.

The 1983 tragedy of the massacre of 20,000 people – said to be a material underestimate – around Bulawayo, by Mugabe’s hired thugs, was more or less hidden at the time. Apparently, the Thatcher Government was so relieved to be shot of Zimbabwe that they asked few questions and were fobbed off with non-answers. I am sure, however, that the fact that the massacre was conducted by black people killing black people was a factor. We just didn’t care enough. If, however, it has been black people killing white or, worse still, white people killing black, the world would have taken real notice, the perpetrators hunted down and tried at The Hague on grounds of crimes against humanity.

If there is any justice I presume Uncle Bob is having a difficult time with the Recording Angel.

Revisiting a Referendum

Those not totally numbed to distraction over Brexit might care to look at a 1975 YouTube Oxford University debate. The late Labour minister Peter Shore is speaking before the 1975 referendum and the points he makes brilliantly are as pertinent today as they were then. Ted Heath lolls looking bored in the audience. The great Barbara Castle and Jeremy Thorpe are also listening.


A lovely morning walking through Frimley and Sandhurst.

The Beautiful Game

The beautiful game is being ruined by hideous violence, cheating, corruption and racism.

Why not make the fans pay in hard cash for the ghastly conduct of a few? Why not make the clubs and players pay the full price of policing these matches? It’s not as it they are short of money. If the Serbian Under 21 fans behave as racist criminals, why not force such matches to be played behind closed doors without paying crowds? If banana skins and glass are hurled onto pitches, why not simply stop the game, find the perpetrators and hand them over to the police? If a match is disrupted, so what?

Make the Penalty Pay!

At the first sign of trouble, why not take the players off? Practise zero tolerance? Boom! Fans would soon learn to police their own events once they learnt that a few loonies were destroying the game and costing them a load of money. Why don’t the clubs buy their own monitors and start behaving like grown-ups? The police should treat obscene chants in the same way that such chants would be treated if heard on the streets, and prosecute the perpetrators. Tribalism trumps moral perspective and the idiotic claims that bad behaviour is always the other side’s fault are plain childish.

Segregation of crowds encourages abuse and riots. If fans were mixed as they are at rugby matches they might begin to appreciate good football being played by both sides. When did you last see a riot at a rugby match?

Why should taxpayers pay good money to clear up this mess? Of course, it’s all about money and you know what God thinks about money when you see the sort of people he gives it to. Once the players started to be paid obscene salaries, the vital link between them and ordinary supporters was sundered and any sense of duty and responsibility was broken. Players and managers are now planets apart and the honour of being a role model long since dissipated. Presently, professional footballers simply don’t have to think of anyone other than themselves and their weird tattoos and haircuts. So they don’t.

The beautiful game is now a raddled old bag: she needs a facelift.

The Dark Side

One of my chums, who knows about the darker side of life, told me a great truth. That it’s far more interesting to say scandalous things about people than nice.

If you wonder whether this is true or not, just consider this example. If I tell you I’ve just had a meeting with Jim Johnson, a dear friend who is kind, thoughtful, gentle, loved by all, and faithful to his wife his whole life long, just tell me you won’t yawn with boredom and find a quick opportunity to walk away. (I simply won’t believe you!)

On the other hand, if I tell you that I’ve just had a meeting with Jim, the one with the drunken past who is probably a crook and a legendary serial adulterer – and in great trouble – I bet you’ll curl your lip with pleasure and beg for more.

Go on – admit it!

April Fool

Years ago, I rang a friend and told him that his greatest pal had just been raided by the fraud squad.

“Great news,” he said, “That’ll teach the sanctimonious sod”!

I then pointed out that it was 1 April.

“Oh… please, please don’t tell him what I just said!”

Reader, what do you think I did?


    • Jennifer Carter on September 9, 2019 at 10:44 am
    • Reply

    Hi, Tom,
    I haven’t been reading your blog until today but have now caught up. Having read it, I don’t think that you told the greatest pal what his friend said.
    I am a 4th generation white Zimbabwean. My English husband and I moved there in 1997 when things were looking up. I had lived in Britain since meeting him in 1989. We left in 2008, precipitated mainly by Mugabe stealing the result of the Presidential election.
    I am now truly shocked that it is the Mother of Parliaments that is doing its best to steal my vote from me. You are right when you say people all over the world look to Britain to uphold democracy. It seems that years in the EU have turned some British politicians – and many of the people – from democracy. Or maybe it is the dreaded ‘social media’.
    Mugabe’s death has brought back memories. He is the only person I have ever hated – and I hated him more for making me hate him. I am afraid that I hope he suffered a great deal. Although the new Zimbabwe government is no better – how could it be when Mnangagwe was the man who implemented Gukurahundi and subsequent murders of Mugabe opponents? – I am very glad that Mugabe was thrown out of office and knew how much he was hated by so many Zimbabweans. Combined with the spectacle of ‘Conservative’ MPs determined to thwart the democratic vote they handed to the people, it has been a depressing week.
    I thank you and Jane for what you do for Zimbabweans. I know people who are being helped by ZANE. The situation is dreadful, as you well know. God bless you.

    • Anthony Reynolds on September 9, 2019 at 3:25 pm
    • Reply

    Brilliant, Tom. Peter Shore … amazing what you pull out of the grey cells.

    I recall an article in about 1975 in the Daily Telegraph by Neil Martin (Marten?) MP, a Conservative, arguing very well against the EEC on the grounds that it added layers of government. Conservatives should be reducing it.

    Peter Shore had read the Treaty of Rome. So had Enoch Powell. I remember noting that those who had read it voted against the EEC. The majority had not, and the majority have not read the draft Withdrawal Agreement. I have. It is dreadful – I’d rather remain.

    Giving non-elected Commissioners sole right to propose our laws (Article 100 of the Treaty of Rome) and then paying them a net £10 billion a year to do so defies logic!

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