I must warn readers that this post is controversial and may distress some people.

Jackie drove me to New Milton this morning and back home this evening for me to travel to St Thomas’s Hospital to join Luci in visiting Wolf.

From Waterloo I took the tube to Westminster and walked across the bridge to the demonstrationJPG

Today’s demonstration in Parliament Square was by It was only after reading the information given to me by Liz, one of the volunteers distributing leaflets, that I realised that the photographs on display across the road were of aborted foetuses after their destruction. For those who wish to see, a clear view of these can be had by zooming in on the image.

This organisation aims fully to acquaint people with what actually happens in an abortion. They have links with PASE (post abortion support for everyone). My Social Work and Counselling practice demonstrated the importance of this.

Here is what the website of Education for Choice has to say about the history of the UK abortion laws:

‘The Abortion Act 1967

In the time between the Bourne ruling and the 1967 Abortion Act some women did have abortions for urgent medical reasons or, with the consent of a psychiatrist, to protect their mental health.

Wealthier women were more likely to be able to pay to see a psychiatrist who could agree to a safe abortion, but many would have had no option but to seek illegal methods for ending a pregnancy.

The cost to women’s health of illegal abortion was high with around 40 women dying each year and many more injured. Doctors, politicians and members of some religious communities worked together to pass a law that allowed for abortion in some circumstances.

The Abortion Act was passed in 1967, a time of lively political campaigning, and is sometimes seen as one of the triumphs of the women’s movement. The reality is that it was not passed to give women rights, but to respond to a public health problem.

The law gave the rights and responsibility for decision making to doctors not women. It did not legalise abortion, but allowed for exceptions to the illegality of abortion.

Much of the law is open to interpretation and asks doctors to make a judgement based on weighing up risks rather than specifying particular circumstances in which abortion would be legal.

There have been several attempts in Parliament to restrict abortion law further by those who do not support a woman’s right to choose abortion. Those who do support the right to choose are also unhappy with the law, which is perceived to be unclear and too restrictive.

In 1990 the 1967 Act was amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which reduced the original time limit of 28 weeks to 24 weeks for most abortions.’

This time limit reduction indicates forensic uncertainty about the viability of life.

When does life commence? My own view is reflected in this quotation from Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth of Harvard University Medical School, in the brochure ‘What do you think about abortion?’: ‘It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.’ There are other quotations, detailed information, and further graphic illustrations in this publication.

Without going into the rights and wrongs of the dichotomy that exists in UK legislation, I will simply say, that, since 1967, we have permitted the destruction of unborn children, yet deny terminally ill people the right voluntarily to end their lives with dignity. I am not here advocating euthanasia, simply pointing up the differences in stances taken.

torn leafletsGiven that we are told that 97% of UK abortions are funded by the NHS, I spare a thought for the medics who are charged with having to carry out the task.

In a bizarre reflection of what happens to the embryos, a number of the leaflets had been ripped up and discarded on the surrounding pavements like this one on Westminster Bridge. Others found their way into waste bins.

Liz, having sought my permission, seeing that I was struggling to walk, placed her hand on my shoulder and offered up a prayer for my joints.

As I limped across the bridge I was accosted by the woman, claiming to be a gypsy, whom I had photographed railing at a tourist on 20th June 2013. Advancing on me like a Fury she plonked both her hands, clutching artificial carnations, onto my chest and proceeded, pounding my sternum and spraying spittle on my waistcoat with every word, to castigate me for refusing to accept one. ‘We gotta live,’ she cried. ‘Well do it another way. Don’t con people.’ I replied, extricated myself and hobbled off.Life Residential

Opposite the hospital is an estate agent called ‘LIFE Residential’, its sign nicely juxtaposed with that of the gift shop next door.

Soon after leaving St Thomas’s, I met a man who told me he had, last night, stood on Westminster Bridge contemplating taking his own own life. Another gentleman had talked him out of it.

On the train I finished reading the third book of G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Father Brown Stories’, ‘The Incredulity of Father Brown’, and began the next one, ‘The Secret of Father Brown’. These tales are all about the taking of life.

Jackie and I both drank T’Sing Tao beer with our Chinese takeaway this evening.


Panettone And Jam Pudding

13th November 2013

Jackie drove me to and from Southampton Parkway today for my visit to Norman. I took my usual Green Park route from Waterloo as far as Piccadilly, which I crossed and continued up Old and New Bond Streets to the next station on the Jubilee Line. River ThamesIt was high tide on a choppy Thames as I approached Westminster Bridge. Gulls on the embankment wall were being tempted by one woman to provide photographic material for another, younger, one – and for me.  Gull feeding 2Gull feedingGull feeding 3They were both amused at my efforts.  The fact that we did not understand each other’s languages was no barrier to communication. Churchill statueOn 1st November 1973, Queen Elizabeth II gave the honour of unveiling the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square to the great man’s window, Baroness Clementine.  The sculpture, gazing across from the green to the Parliamentary arena that its subject so dominated during the years of the Second World War, captures his distinctive posture so well that a silhouette is all that is needed for recognition.  Ivor Roberts-Jones was the artist. The green grass still largely uncovered by leaves in St James’s Park, provides the carpet for crows, squirrels, waterfowl, and humans. St James's Park plane trees Although the London planes slough their bark throughout the year, their leaves are retained a little longer than yesterday’s gorgeous maples. The reason I know about the bark is a little embarrassing.  Some time around 1980, I was gazing thoughtfully out of my Westminster office window when I noticed planes in the street outside shedding their skin.  Wondering whether this was a consequence of the hot summer and something should be done about it, I telephoned the department responsible for their maintenance to alert them of this fact.  ‘They are meant to do that’, was the reply.  ‘That’s how they get rid of city dirt’. Neasden Lane autumnNeasden Lane pavementNeasden’s trees were making a valiant effort to brighten its unattractive blocks of flats, but no amount of fallen leaves could have invited carpet slippers onto the ramshackle surface of the Neasden Lane pavements. Norman served a tender, well marinaded beef stew and pilau rice for lunch.  Not having used his Le Creuset casserole dish for some months – since last Christmas as it turned out – he was surprised, when removing its lid, to find it contained half a panettone.  He also had a jar of jam he wanted to finish up.  Consequently the planned bread and butter pudding became one of panettone and jam, baked with a custard topping, and served with cream. recipe-image-legacy-id--757_11 The peel in the brioche type bread made an excellent substitute for marmalade which is sometimes spread on the bread of our normal version.  I thought this an agreeably inventive variation on a theme.  The choice of wine, appropriately, was an excellent valpolicella. My journey home was uneventful.  Seeking an illustration of panettone on Google, I discovered the BBC posh panettone bread and butter pudding, and am able to insert a picture of this.  It doesn’t have custard or jam, so I consider my friend could legitimately take out a patent.

Back To The Akash


For the third heat-wave day in succession, Jackie drove me to and from Southampton for a London trip.  First port of call was Carol’s, to whose home I struggled over Westminster Bridge and down Victoria Street.  This time it was mid-afternoon in 30+ degrees.

The international teeming throng offered neither let-up nor pavement space. London Eye concourse Wherever possible, leaders of groups held up all kinds of devices for their followers to keep in their sights.  The journey from Waterloo to the comparative freedom of Victoria Street probably took twice as long as normal.  I considered myself fortunate that I wasn’t a tourist or a sightseer intent on visiting places of interest.

JesterOn South Bank various entertainers, such as the jester exchanging high fives with little boys, set up pitches.  Before reaching the concourse Charlie Chaplin strode by on his way to his performance venue.  The artists must have been sweltering under their costumes.

The Thames is, of course, a tidal river.  As I fought my way through the pulsating populace I wondered about descending to join the gulls clambering on the rocks and silt below. Low tideThere was no way down, which was probably a blessing.

After I had finally made it up the steps to Westminster Bridge it was a male hand that thrust the camera into mine. Steps to Westminster Bridge In vain did I attempt to explain to the three young Italians that, because of the height and angle of the sun, they would be backlit in their determination to have the famous clock face featured in their group portrait.  I had a go in French which was just as alien to them as was English. Three Italian lads They did understand my comment that my Italian was non-existent, but pointing at the sun and swivelling myself around didn’t cut much ice.

Shut Guantanamo demo

At Parliament Square a silent demonstration pleaded for the closure of Guantanamo detention centre.

There were several ice-cream vendors about.  Two men in their thirties were debating where they could find shade to sit and eat the treats.  I suggested a park a short way down Victoria Street.  This didn’t interest them as they had to attend a meeting at Guildhall.  Mind you, the cooling delicacy would probably have run all the way down their forearms and dripped off their elbows onto their trousers long before they reached the oasis.  They wouldn’t then have cut very impressive figures at the discussion.

Brolley man

Quite a few people, risking poking others in the face, were using umbrellas as parasols.  One gentleman used his as a beacon for his followers.

From Carol’s I walked along Broadway to St. James’s Park underground station where I boarded the Circle Line tube to Edgware Road, along which I walked to the Akash (see post of 31st October last year) for a meal with Jessie.  There is no air-conditioning on the packed tube trains.  On the Circle Line the temperature was 34.2 degrees.

I enjoyed the usual delightful meal with my very good friend Jessie.  Majid, Zaman, and Shafiq gave me their customary warm welcome and once again produced my favourite repast without my having to order.  It was as if I’d never been away.

We took our coffee outside, where Majid was happy to serve it.  As he placed the pot on the table, I asked him to return to the doorway for a photo.  He had his back to the Akash. Majid outside akash The Christmas tree alongside him is probably one of those he always sets up for the Christian festive season.

Jessie drove me to King’s Cross whence I took the underground to Waterloo and thence to home.