Category Archives: Thoughts

The Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms

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In my article “I am still learning more on history” I mentioned the Cabinet War Rooms in Central London.

My interest in visiting the Cabinet War Rooms came about by reading R.V. Jones book Most Secret War, because in his writing, Jones reported his various meetings in this secret underground bunker with the Chiefs of Staff and the Prime Minister of Great Britain during WWII, Winston Churchill. I wanted to verify the information he was giving, and experience what had taken place some 70 years previously. His whole writings seemed to imply he was the most important person in the Second World War apart from Churchill.

I was not to be disappointed in what I learnt and saw, although gained no reference or mention when asking guides to R.V. Jones having worked there.

Located near Horse Guards Parade, opposite St Jame’s Park, and under what is now The Treasury Building, it was decided in 1930’s, because of the impending war with Germany and the probability of aerial bombardment, to build a central emergency working space for the War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff of the military. One week before the outbreak of the Second World War, on 27th August 1939, the secret bunker was opened, and was in continuous until the end of the war in 1945.

At the end of the war in 1945, staff left their desks, control rooms and living quarters and returned to their normal working places, leaving the secret underground bunker as is, to be used as stores. But in the late 1970’s the Imperial War Museum was tasked with preserving this historic site, and to open the site to the public. From 2005 this site was fully open and included the Churchill Museum dedicated to the life and work of this great British Prime Minister.

A new entrance was opened allowing public access to the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, the old access being in what is now The Treasury Building.

To protect the people working in the bunker, (it is stated that over 500 people worked at any one time in the facilities), extra wooden and steel girder reinforcements were built into the bunker, and a steel and concrete two-metre deep slab lain in the void above the bunker.

Cabinet War Rooms Churchill Museum

Cabinet War Rooms Churchill Museum

Cabinet War Rooms Churchill Museum



Among the many rooms and facilities is a room called the Map Room, it is said to be in the same state as it was left in 1945, with the original maps on the walls. One wall shows the Atlantic Ocean, and was used to chart the progress of the merchant shipping, more often being in convoys, still showing the tiny pin holes marking the ships positions. This room was staffed 24 hours a day by officers of the navy, army and airforce, to keep track of the war.

A link from the Cabinet War Rooms Map Room was back to another famed wartime site I have visited, The Battle of Britain Operations Room, at RAF Uxbridge. (click to see article). It was from this Ops room, that information would be fed to the Cabinet War Rooms. as can be seen by a board giving details of flights during the Battle of Britain.

RAF Uxbridge, The Battle of Britain Control Room

RAF Uxbridge, The Battle of Britain Control Room

Links would also be to other war time facilities, including Bletchley Park. The German encrypted messages made on the Enigma Machine would be decoded in Bletchley Park, which helped the Navy plan and fight the Battle of the Atlantic, against the German naval fleet and submarines.

The museum also contains as stated the Churchill Museum, more on that later.

I spent about four hours in the Cabinet War Rooms, so I was somewhat hungry and thirsty, and had an English Afternoon Tea, in the Switchroom Café. Finger sandwiches, (I eat one before taking this picture), made of cheese and cucumber and smoked salmon, a cup of English Breakfast tea with milk, and a piece of cake just like my mother used to make, with strawberry and cream filling, not like mass made factory cake. Paradise.

English Afternoon Tea

English Afternoon Tea in the Switchroom, Cabinet War Rooms.

I am still learning more on history

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In the past I have had to admit that there is much missing from my knowledge, my history.

I realised how much is missing from my family history, when after getting together recently with my daughter Vanessa in Southampton, and I was relating what knowledge I had to her, how little I really did know. I had heard stories from my father and mother, uncles and aunties, but this information was limited and nothing had been written down, and now knowing what I do know now about human memory systems, there was much missing.

Visiting so many countries, and listening to their understanding of their history, I realise that it differs from my understanding of the same history from a British point of view. My experience of talking to Gianni Golfera’s Grandfather as a WWII Italian Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 Sparviero (SM.79) bomber pilot and his recollections of fighting the British Hurricane fighter planes, gave a different point of view to my reading of British history of that time.

Having an inquiring mind, trying to understand the background of information, and often asking “why“, I sometimes need and search for information, for example, looking at the history of the WWII British fight plane, the Hurricane and its’ connect to Kingston upon Thames where I have a home.

Part of my research has been through reading, thank goodness I know PhotoReading, part of my research through talking to people, and part of research has been through visiting museums and actual sites the history took place.

My recent interest has taken me to Bletchley Park, north of London, home of and historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer, Colosus. This led me to reading many books on the history of Bletchley Park, and to a book by R.V. Jones called Most Secret War. Reading this book led me to wanting to find more about the history of the Cabinet War Rooms, Britain’s secret underground shelter for the War Cabinet and Chiefs of Staff, in Central London.

A tour guide at Bletchley Park when informing us of the work initially undertaken by Polish scientists on the secret encoding of the messages by the Germans and the Enigma Machines, was that once a year a special visit was taken by Polish nationals to the park, and that their guides tell a different story than he does.

Now I have found so much more insight into my own and others history, that I have had to completely rewrite some my understanding of my knowledge, also reaffirming my realisation that we are only told by higher authorities and others what they want us to know.

I also realise that I should have asked my relatives who are now no longer with us more about their history and thus Vanessa’s and mine.

Big mouth

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It must be the heat here in Bologna, Italy, driving me to say the wrong things.

I can now understand why people in Bologna leave for the whole of August for a holiday to the seaside, the mountains and other cooler places, as the temperature last night in the bedroom never went below 32 degrees. I was perspiring all night, drinking over 1 litre of water, and not going to the toilet.

The days are even hotter.

It is a time that I have to say what is on my mind, to communicate with others, new ideas, new concepts so learning can take place.

But perhaps I said too much, as I have had my head bitten off, for expressing my opinion.


Need to reactivate the alarm system in my brain which rings a big bell, flashes a big bright red light just before I open my mouth to say something. A warning should be going off in my head :-

     “shut up”

Perhaps it is the heat, or the fact that I can talk to someone, after all my life style means I am on my own most of the time in my own world, making my own choices which are appropriate for me and only me, and when I am with other people I forget that they have choices too, that may not be the same as mine.

Oh Poo Poo. Life is such a load of Poo Poo.

Still another day starts, and a new hand of cards have been dealt to me. I hope this hand will be a winning hand, and I think it will be, as I believe I can make the right choices from now on.

I thought my boat had come in

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Deserted back streets of Bologna, Italy.

Yesterday was the Italian festival of Ferragosto or Assumption Day, and as I wondered the streets of Bologna, visiting churches, admiring the buildings, the back streets, I reflected on this festival, of how friends were getting together, in their homes, the beaches, the mountains, any where other than the hot streets of Bologna, and how I was alone with my own thoughts.
 

Interior of Convento Padri Agostiniani, Bologna, Italy

I also noticed other people walking by themselves, and wondered why they were alone, what was going through their mind, and decided just to smile at people as they passed.

I was happy as I got a reaction, they smiled back.

I walked on, and what little Italian I know, I decided to use.

I gave a smile and said “Buongiorno” (good morning), and that also created a reaction, a reply of “Buongiorno“.

Perhaps I was raising the spirits of the others like me, walking the streets alone.

But that was as much as I conversed in italian, until I got to a gelateria, an ice cream parlour, seen on nearly every Italian street corner.

I love my gelato, my Italian ice cream. (see the articles on Jack Frost, Milano), and in the 35 degree heat, I decided on buying a cup.

Walking slowly down some of the 42 km of arched walkways, I savoured every spoonful, my mind concentrating on not missing one mouthful of the gelato, when two very beautiful young ladies overtook me, then stopped and turned back towards me, speaking in Italian.


Via Zamboni arches, Bologna, Italy

My heart jumped, two wonderful young Italian ladies, by boat had arrived.

Then my heart hit my shoes, I did not understand a word. My attempts at talking Italian gave a bewildered look on their faces, Non parle italiano, sono inglese“, (I don’t speak Italian, I am English).

With a shrug of their shoulders, they turned, and walked away, leaving me alone again, but happy with my gelato and my own thoughts.

I am continually learning

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This last week has been full, my brain needs a rest.

Here in Bologna in Italy, like all people, I have been learning new things, about myself, others, cultures, history, language, many many things, and it has sometimes been very hard and frustrating.

As I walk into a building, I notice a new picture, a new design, a new word on a notice board in a language I struggle with, because I only speak the English language. Yet that word has entered my brain, every new experience, sight, sound, smell, taste or touch has become part of me and will stay with me. I learn new things every second of the day, I am continually learning.

But why is it that some things are easier to learn than others?

I have a curiosity in most things, I want to know how things work, what makes people and things tick.

I am motivated to learn, and I have desire.

Yet some things are easier to absorb and remember than others, even using the same learning strategies.

Why is it that I can learn how to deal with electronical devices?

How is it that I can work out how a mechanical device works, and repair it?

Why is it that I can hear a word or a phrase in a foreign language, repeat it back, but then it disappears from my mind?

My whole week has been a roller coaster of ups and downs, as I master and learn and think I understand, the next minute I realise it has gone, what I had understood now confuses me.

Or has it?

But that is the learning process for me and many more of us.

There are many types of races, especially horse races. Some races are on the flat, and some have hurdles or fences. Some of the race tracks are very flat, some have hills to climb up and to go down. Some race tracks have curves and corners, whilst others are a straight line from the start to the finish.


Some horses prefer flat racing, some horses are better over fences. Some horses prefer left handed curved courses, others right handed, and still others cannot handle curves. Some horses have to wear blinkers because they become distracted by passing scenery.

No one horse is the same as another, they have preferences. It is up to the trainer and rider to see the potential, and to bring-out the winning streak, to improve and strengthen the weaknesses.

As we learn, it can be like being on a race track.
 
There could be many hurdles along the way which will slow the learning process, as long as we overcome the hurdles we will learn. There may be many distractions, many times we may not know what is around the corner. As long as we run the race to its’ conclusion we will overcome the frustration.

There can only be one winner in a horse race, as some horses are quicker and better than others and are in the right race for them, but as long as we finish the race we can all be winners of our own race, and at least we have taken part, and become part of the group.

41 shirts, 4 trousers

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41 shirts, 4 trousers.

I did not think I had so many, but now I know I have as that is how many i have ironed, and there are more in a wardrobe that I have not worn for a long time.

    I hear of people who love ironing, they find it relaxing. Really? I do not hate it, but do not like it.

Still, although I am slow, I do it, but if anyone would volunteer to do it for me, please let me know, with your terms and conditions.

But now I am ready for my next trip abroad, starting tomorrow, I will be able to pack clean and ironed shirts.

Pity they are always creased when I get the other end, or arrive at my destination.

Frustration

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Today has been a frustrating day.

Trying to get a letter from the British Tax system has so far proved impossible, and I have been trying for months.

Today I tried again. I telephone the help line to be greeted by the inevitable, “All our agents are busy, please try later.”  then the line drops, as I am cut off.

Eventually I get through to get “if you want this or that, press button one………”, after what seems ten minutes I get to talk to a human, who tries to be helpful, but even after talking to someone else, tells me to contact my tax office, and gives me the same number I had just telephone him on.

I search for the tax offices’ telephone number holding my details, this is in Ireland, and me, I am in England. On finding the number I telephone, and it is answered by a young lady, who says I would have to telephone a special number, again I was given the same number I originally called.

Calm, I informed the lady that I had called the special number and they told me to telephone her office. I was told that they were not allowed to take telephone calls, and that I would have to go to the inquiries desk. Still calm, I said to her I was in London and her office is in Ireland.

I thanked her and ended the call.

I rethink my problem, and decide to go to the local tax office, yes a local office, but not one that deals with my tax returns.

On arrival, still very clam, keeping state, I relate my problems to a lovely lady, who is at a loss as what to advise, and says that the local offices do not have tax officers, that all tax affairs are now and have been for years centralized in large offices such as Ireland. She gave me a number to telephone, it was the same telephone number I had started with.

She kindly offered me a choice of two telephones that I could use in the office. I picked one and got the “if you want this or that, press button one………”, which I pressed, but nothing happened, and I gave up that phone.

When I tried the second phone I got  “All our agents are busy, please try later.”  

Eventually I got through, and a nice guy listened to me and said he would organise my letter.

I wonder.

Don’t Judge a Book by its’ Cover

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As a PhotoReaderPhotoReading Trainer and now an avid book reader, I am almost pulled into a bookshop as much as I am into an electronics or gadget shop, they all have a mysterious power over me.

I search the bookshelves for books on subjects near to my heart, on subjects I may be researching, on authors I have read before and enjoyed.

But, how many times have I been caught out by seeing a book, buy it, take it home and start reading it, and find it all too familiar? It is as if I have read the subject before, it all makes sense.

I look on my bookshelves for books by the same author, but I cannot see the book I have just purchased and finding so familiar.

Then I spot one, take it off the shelf. The covers are different, but the title is the same.

I compare my new book to the old, and they are both the same inside. The author or the publisher have just changed the cover. Maybe the author has added a few new words, a new section, but the book and contents are the same. 

I have found in the past few months that as I was loosing weight, it would be best to take some dietary supplements, especially vitamin C due the all the travelling I make, and found a product called Berocca which I feel has had some beneficial effects upon me.

My brother-in-law, nearing the end of his life and as of yesterday in hospital with spreading cancer, has not been eating, fruits, meats, anything for weeks, and thus his body is lacking the nutrients it needs to exist, he has now mouth ulcers, his lips are dry, cracking and bleeding, his gums are in a bad way, a sure sign of scurvy, the lack of vitamin C. I remember my tablets, and we get him to start drinking the effervescent drink, and his condition seems to improve, even with the small amount he takes.

I search the shops here in Malaysia for the same product, as in this global society and market we live in today, it will be sold here as well as the UK, and eventually find it. The packaging has the same colours and artwork, but the box is a different shape, so I am drawn to compare the ingredients, the composition of the product itself, and guess what, they are different. The UK Berocca product has more ingredients, and the quantities of ingredients that each product share are different, yet the tablet looks the same.

This tablet is not the only product that I have eagerly purchased because I am familiar with them, used to, aware of in my home country of the UK, yet when I buy it in Turkey, Italy, China, Peru, they are different.

Cadbury’s chocolate seems to be totally different here in Malaysia then in the UK, due I am told to the hot climate, as the UK product would melt in the tropical weather of Malaysia.

In Italy, I eat pizza, and love it, yet in the UK after eating a pizza I suffer from indigestion.

KFC is different in Malaysia as it is in other countries although, like McDonald’s, the restaurants and menus look the same. They cater for local tastes and customs.

Some people exploit human nature to be comfortable with familiarity, our need to have what we are used to.

In China, the books of Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling are like in any country, very popular, so much so that a whole new industry has been born on creating new books with Harry Potter in the title, even having the same classic style of book cover. Apparently the list includes, “Harry Potter and the Hiking Dragon,” “Harry Potter and the Chinese Empire,” “Harry Potter and the Young Heroes,” “Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Harry Potter,” “Harry Potter and Leopard-Walk-up-to-Dragon,” “Harry Potter and the Big Funnel,” “Harry Potter and the Golden Armor,” “Harry Potter and the Crystal Vase,” and on and on.

So we have to be aware, that is to say, do not judge a book by its’ cover. Is it the real thing?.

We as human beings are like books, and people say they can “read people like a book”. We put on an outer covering, we hide behind a mask, we show a persona. a character we wish to show, and for the world and others judge us by.

Like books and products in different countries, different societies and cultures, will be changed to be appropriate, to be suitable and be acceptable, it is with us as human beings. We as humans can and do change.

A Managing Director of a large company will have to be strong, a leader, a decision maker when in the office hours, but if they use the same characteristics in the home, they will be and are in trouble. A nurse in a hospital has to be hard, decisive yet compassionate, but will act different when with their loved ones at home even if they stub their toe.

Yet, unlike a book or a product, we humans can change of our own free will, and we do. That is what makes humans what we are. We can and do change, we have choice if we so wish. That is what NLP teaches us to do, have choice to make changes, and to make changes.

So perhaps a person who has been hard, unforgiving, a tyrant throughout their lives can change at the end.

A person who has shown compassion, love and helped others thought their life in a caring profession, can become very demanding, and aggressive at the end.

It is said that a leopard cannot change its’ spots, perhaps not, but has it shown all its’ characteristics to us as an observer before? Have we seen or witnessed all the persona? Are we aware of all that is beneath the covers, the capabilities, personalities?

As a lasting thought, perhaps we should all look beneath our own covers, see ourselves as other people see us, before we judge others.

Our little world on the 26th floor

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As I sit here in Kuala Lumpur, on the 26th floor of Villas Angsana, I am amazed by how loud the traffic is way down there below me on the new expressway they have just built. I think it is more noisy up here than it is sitting perhaps next to the traffic.

Looking out through the open French windows to the banking area of KL, the massive high office blocks where I was only a couple of days ago in a meeting, seeing all the bankers working away, I wonder if they know or care what suffering is happening to others not far from them.

I look into the sky and see an aircraft at high altitude, carrying people back to their homes or away on business or on their holidays, and wonder if they knew of how life was proceeding towards the end 35,000 feet below. Often as I fly around the world, looking down as the earth slowly passes below me, I wonder if the people know there is someone looking down at them, and I wonder what these people are doing at that time.

As I am writing this blog, do the people who are keeping the internet and the computer structures functioning, know how I and others are trying to make suffering as easy as possible.

I wonder if those in the shopping centres, buying their new dresses, gadgets, toys and food know I can see the bright lights of the shops, yet have no desire to visit them, there are more important things happening here now.

Above the noise of the traffic I hear the calls to prayers, and I wonder if those who are worshipping their god, in their belief system, are considering how they could pray for those less fortunate, and perhaps how they can offer hope, help and support as well as prayer.

At the moment it is as if here on the 26th floor we are on our own.

How many more people throughout our small world are going through what we are experiencing?

……….

We try and find some medicine to make the brother-in-law more comfortable, but suddenly, my brother-in-law has taken a turn for the worse, and we call his two sons and another brother-in-law to come to help as an ambulance is called.

………..

It is a time to give care, kindness and compassion, as he is taken to hospital.

For me I will stay behind on the 26th floor with my sister-in-law, who herself is too ill to go with him.

We will sit up into the night to await news.

Memories of Harlequin Ladybirds and Batik Printing

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It was about this time last year that using my peripheral vision, or Phillip’s Sausage, I spotted an unusual infestation of a an insect I had never seen before the Harlequin Ladybird. (click to read)

This Harlequin Ladybird was a very new species in the UK, and I would have thought I would have seen the same sight this year. But no.

I wonder what has happened to them?

Have they been eradicated?

Is the climate not suitable for them?

Is it the case of H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds?

Here the Martians are defeated when they invaded earth, not by man, but by tiny microbes, the red weed.

I was reminded of the past by an email I received from Vodafone Turkey, which showed a ladybird.


Vodafone Turkey

When my eyes saw the image, it passed the image to my visual cortex. My visual cortex, then said, “um, what is this I see”, and went on a transderivational search, searching for past experiences of images which matched the one I was seeing now. It went searching in the filing cabinets of my memories until it came up with a match or near match, and thus the Harlequin Ladybird .

Other memories came to mind from the advert, that of Malaysian batik printing.


Batik fabric

Batik fabric printing is an art form from South East Asia , especially Indonesia and Malaysia, where a cotton fabric, and traditionally the process requires that a line or a patch is placed or drawn with wax on cloth. This is done so that the surface is protected from the colour dye. The cloth is then dipped in the a dye, the colour dye does not penetrate the area that has been waxed. The wax stops the colour being absorbed into the cloth, therefore the surface is divided into dyed and un-dyed areas.

Strange how our mind works, and how memories come flooding back.