Capitalism, Neo-Colonialism and Migration


Karl Marx

A recent statement by the Heads of State of progressive Latin American countries said that ‘capitalism threatens life on the planet’. In 15 numbered clauses they answer the ‘Draft Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas’ which, the Heads of State say, does not provide the answers to the Global Economic Crisis.

I agree with 14 of the 15 points these leaders raise, mainly about capitalism and U.S. neo-colonialism being a cause of much of the crisis, and the need for drastic reform of organizations like the IMF, WTO and World Bank, and the need to remove the U.S. sanctions, etc. against Cuba.

The only clause I take issue with is number 9. calling for free movement of people. The problem is much more complex than that, and it is of course capitalism and neo-colonialism which is to blame for so many people seeking a better life in other countries. It is just not possible, or desirable, for everyone in the under-developed countries and in the former Socialist countries, all of which are exploited as a pool of cheap labor by the capitalist muti-nationals, to emigrate to the developed countries in order to raise their standards of living.

This would not only create unemployment, overcrowding, a housing crisis and a racist backlash which could lead to ethnic cleansing in the developed countries, but would impoverish the less developed and former Socialist countries even more. So many Polish men were working abroad, at one time, that some Polish towns had to recruit women to run their local fire brigades.

All countries have a need and a right to control both emigration and immigration. Thus the Berlin Wall was absolutely necessary, as is the barrier between USA and Mexico, and all other border installations around the world. How these borders are controlled is another matter. Minefields and shooting people trying to cross illegally is not acceptable, but there does need to be some sort of control.

As I see it, the answer to the problem of migration comes in two parts. Ultimately world-wide Socialism, that is true Socialism, is the answer. In the meantime, and as a large step towards achieving the collapse of the capitalist system and its replacement by Socialism, the world’s entire labor force needs to be fully unionized.

In the developed countries, the workers owe their relatively high standards of living not to the success of the capitalist system or the generosity of the capitalists themselves but to the trade union movement which for decades fought to achieve decent wages, better working conditions, etc. We had to withdraw our labor in order to bring the capitalists to their knees, before they’d give in.

The Thatcher/Major/Blair/Brown eras in UK have greatly weakened the trade unions and labor movement generally. So the flood of immigrants from the former Socialist countries and the under-developed world is driving down wages and causing mass unemployment, while at the same time denying these other countries a valuable labor force, and also of course splitting up families in many cases.

A fully unionized labor force in the developed countries would mean any immigrants coming in would need to join a trade union, and would earn union rates, competing on a level playing-field with the local labor force. This would, at a stroke, solve the problem of immigrant workers being exploited by being paid low wages and also putting the local labor force out of work.

At the same time, the labor force in the under-developed and former Socialist countries needs to be fully unionized. They too need to fight for higher wages, decent conditions and an end to capitalist exploitation.

The Polish trade union Solidarity brought down the flawed Socialist system there, but it also brought about an end to Socialist security from cradle to grave, and ended guaranteed full employment. It also let in the capitalist multi-nationals to exploit the Polish workforce, as also happened in the other former Socialist countries. Gone are all the subsidies and many of the public services which existed under Socialism, gone is the guarantee of a job and lifetime security. That is the price of rejecting Socialism, instead of reforming the flawed variety. Of throwing out Socialism, and keeping the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats who deformed it, and at the same time inviting the capitalist multi-nationals to come in and exploit the local workforce as well. Talk about jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire!

They did it once, they can do it again. Poles and others around the world need to re-form strong trade unions and fight for decent wages and working conditions at home, not flee abroad and abandon their own countries. It was treacherous to flee to the West in the Socialist era instead of staying to improve things at home and it is treacherous now!

Migration will always be an option for some, but it is not the solution for most people to be uprooted from their natural environment and culture. It is most certainly not the solution to low wages or poor working conditions.

The only solution is to break the system of capitalist/neo-colonialist exploitation of labor. Remember that ONLY labor can create value. All the wealth in the world was created by the workers. Capital alone cannot create wealth, it relies on exploiting the labor force in order to create profits.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explained these basic facts in the 19th century. They remain as true today as they ever did. So it is apt we all heed the advice of Karl Marx himself:


Friedrich Engels

Diana’s new site now fully operational

Diana has posted this comment to a much earlier blog of mine via her voice channel Andrew Russell-Davis.

I repeat it here so it doesn’t get missed. The site is well worth many visits, especially for the many podcasts.

May I add that Diana and Andrew are welcome to contribute to this site whenever they wish, but I agree that her own site is the best place for people to visit for the many messages from Diana.


” Hello Everyone,
As I explained to Tony not everyone naturally will be accepting, believing in my being back so therefore rather than cause problems for his site and perhaps risk his being institutionalised somewhere for believing he speaks to a dead princess … well alright ex – princesss and that she contributes to his site, that I’d respect this and bow out gracefully.

Now though I’d like to if I may, make people interested aware that my personal site on the net for which no membership fee is warranted naturally, is now completed and is extremely telling in a number of significant ways in numerous areas.

So for this reason alone consequently one worth visiting for those of you with the inclination to do so. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say !”

Take care with love from,
Diana xx

Comrade Mahon leaves New Labour!




A leftwing comrade and former Labour MP, Alice Mahon, has finally had enough and decided she can no long remain a member of a Party which has abandoned all its principles. As she said in an interview, even if people leaving the Party and not voting for it lets in the Tories, it won’t be much different since New Labour and Tory policies are virtually identical.

I just wonder why more true Socialists haven’t left New Labour. Surely they must realize it is a lost cause.

First, under Neil Kinnock, the Party abandoned unilateralism – i.e. taking the lead by giving up our nuclear weapons, which are not independent and not a deterrent. Then, under Tony Blair’s disastrous leadership, the whole New Labour image was invented. Out went the Red Flag to be replaced by the red rose, out went the passages in Clause IV of the Labour Party Constitution calling for the common ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange, the very basis of Socialism and the whole reason for the Labour Party’s existence.

Not satisfied with that, Blair became a lapdog to one of the most rightwing, war-mongering American administrations, that of George W. Bush, supporting the lies which led to the second Iraq War, and also got involved in an unwinnable conflict in neighboring Afghanistan. He also adopted wholesale Margaret Thatcher’s extreme rightwing policies of privatization and council house sales. Finally he crushed all pretence of democracy in the Party, and established a Stalinist dictatorship by neutralizing the Annual Conference so it is now virtually a rubber-stamp for policies passed down from the top, and no longer the supreme decision-making  body of the Party.

While it is certainly true that past Labour governments frequently ignored controversial (to the leadership) Conference decisions, now any resolutions challenging the policies of the Tory leaders of New Labour cannot even be discussed or voted on at Annual Conference. There is therefore no possibility of winning the Party back to true Marxist or Socialist principles. The Party is completely bourgeois, and following extreme rightwing capitalist policies.

In our first-past-the-post electoral system it is very difficult for new political parties, or indeed any political parties outside the main three, to successfully get candidates elected in local or national elections. But we must try, even if it means we first have to get the electoral system changed to a more representative and democratic one.

The trade union movement must stop supporting New Labour (which is really the New Tories) and come together with other Socialists, proletarians, Communists and all progressive forces to form a new leftwing political party or alliance which will promote true democratic Socialism, based on the principles of Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels.

We need a new united party of the Left because at present it is splintered between many different radical and revolutionary parties and political groups. United under the Red Flag of Socialism, we must march forward together as capitalism collapses all around us in crisis after crisis.

But we must learn from the mistakes of 20th Century Socialism in the Soviet Union, the other Socialist states, in Britain and elsewhere. We must analyze the 20th Century experiments in Socialism and salvage what worked, and reject what didn’t work, what led to corruption, dictatorship, inefficiency and even genocide in some cases. And build on the great successes of 20th Century Socialism in various countries, which abolished illiteracy, unemployment, provided security from cradle to grave for millions, a sense of comradeship, a good health service, and in some cases a booming and successful Socialist economy and a high standard of living.

It is not for me here to single out the more successful Socialist countries or to dictate what worked and what didn’t, or to lay down here a Socialist model for a united Left to adopt. This must be discussed and decided upon democratically. I have given my views elsewhere on this site, and my previous one (see link on main page).

The main thing is to form a new united Party or Alliance of the Left which will strive to raise the Red Flag of true Socialism over Britain and establish a true People’s Republic here, ideally as part of a wider European Socialist federation so several countries can leave the EU together and form a democratic successor to the old Soviet Union to challenge US capitalism, imperialism and hegemony.


In the name of ‘Defending Freedom’

A friend sent me a ’round robin’ email the other day principally about Islamic fundamentalism/extremism and the duty of ordinary peace-loving Muslims to speak up and condemn the extremists. Also mentioned in the email was the failure of ordinary Germans, Japanese, Rwandans, etc. to speak up against atrocities committed by their fellow-countrymen in recent history. Knowing I’m basically a pacifist, he asked for my views.

The first thing I’d say is that USA, and its tag-along faithful lapdog UK, are not the world’s self-appointed policemen with the right to invade any country they like on the pretext that human rights violations are taking place there. In any case they are very selective indeed about which countries they invade – usually ones where there is a lot of nice oil to exploit, or ones where to invade and establish a puppet regime, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, would further their selfish interests.

Other brutal dictatorships, such as Saudi Arabia for instance, and many of the former rightwing Latin American dictatorships like Pinochet’s Chile, are not invaded or even criticized much, being useful American client states.

And let’s not forget that atrocities are not limited to foreigners. UK and USA have committed many themselves. UK had concentration camps long before the Nazis, USA used atomic bombs on Japanese civilians, the RAF mercilessly bombed German cities like Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin killing hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Even today atrocities occur, especially in wartime. The sinking of the Belgrano when sailing away from the Malvinas/Falklands exclusion zone being just one example, the brutal abuse of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. prison camps being other examples. Who is going to police the self-appointed policemen?

And let’s not forget that all the nuclear powers, including Russia, USA and UK, are prepared at any moment to commit genocide on an unprecented scale and kill millions of innocent men, women and children, and also cause cancers in future generations. So we have no right to preach to anybody, and if Bin Laden, the IRA and other terrorists also threaten innocent civilians with bombs, etc. then they have learnt from OUR bad example. The nuclear weapons states are saying to the whole world: ‘It is OK to be prepared to bomb innocent civilians if it achieves your political objectives’ which usually means preservation of a certain lifestyle, religious/moral code, etc.

What do we do about atrocities taking place around the world then? The first thing is to make sure that whatever we do doesn’t make the situation worse. It seems everything UK and USA have done in the past 100 years or so has, in fact, made the situation worse. Even the Second World War probably sealed the fate of 6 million Jews and others in the Nazi concentration camps, none of whom were sent to the gas chambers during the six years of Nazi rule before the War. In the brutality of war, which is the breakdown of civilization and the rule of complete anarchy, all sorts of atrocities are committed by both sides.

Oh, and just ask the Poles, or Czechs and Slovaks, how Britain declaring war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 helped them? The Second World War a success? Poland and Czechoslovakia just exchanged Hitler for Stalin, and remained under the Soviet sphere of influence (by agreement with the USA/UK in the end-of-the-war agreements at Potsdam, Yalta, etc.) for a further 44 years after the Second World War ended!

In Kosovo, the bombing of the Serbs by high-altitude US and UK planes undoubtedly caused a backlash on the Kosovo Albanians by Kosovo Serbs, who blamed the ethnic Albanians for the bombing. So the ethnic violence was actually made much worse by the bombing. Incidentally, how were these high-altitude bombers supposed to insure their bombs only killed Kosovo Serbs on the ground and not Kosovo Albanians?

Ultimately, a permanent world-wide UN peace keeping force policing all countries is the way to stop atrocities taking place. At the moment, even the temporary UN peace keeping forces largely fail to do their job. The way UN peace keepers failed to protect civilians in Srebrenica in the Bosnian-Serb war and in other wars/ethnic conflicts clearly means these forces need to be boosted and given far more power to intervene and prevent such atrocities. The UN peace keepers also failed on the ground to protect Kosovo Albanians, hence the counter-productive bombing raids.

When atrocities are threatened or actually taking place in certain countries, it is the duty of all other countries to provide asylum and safe-havens for refugees, also to actively assist refugees to flee these countries. A homeland was set up for the Jews on Palestinian land after the Second World War. I think this was a great mistake, because it was on stolen land belonging to Arab Palestinians, and because many of the Jews who went to live in ‘Israel’ were never persecuted in the first place, coming from places like USA and UK. The American client state of Israel, together with other American near-colonies like the brutal Saudi Arabian dictatorship, just give fuel to Islamic extremists and groups like Al Quaida.

But homelands for refugees could be a good idea if established in large countries like Russia, Australia, Canada, USA, etc. which have huge under-populated areas. Other countries could also take their share of asylum seekers. Many Jews and others could have been saved from the Nazis if other countries had been more willing to take in refugees before and during the Second World War.

As to Islamic fundamentalists who abuse our hospitality, demand Sharia law in places like UK and USA, and openly parade on our streets with placards demanding beheading of all non-Muslims, etc., they should be rounded up, arrested and either imprisoned or returned to their countries of ethnic origin.

Going back to the world’s self-appointed policemen, largely USA and UK, it is a sobering thought that these two countries armed and supported the dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq for years, and also armed and supported Bin Laden when he was fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. This just emphasizes that these two countries are quite prepared to bed down with any brutal dictator or terrorist if it suits their interests to do so, and will only ‘intervene’ when they believe they will gain something out of it, like a cheap supply of oil for instance.

So, until a world-wide permanent UN security force policing all countries under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (the Security Council is undemocratic and should be abolished) can be established, it is the duty of all countries to take responsibility for contributing to effective UN peace keeping where possible to protect civilians and prevent atrocities/genocide, and to take in genuine refugees and actively help them to flee. Sanctions and other methods short of all-out war can be used to bring down these brutal dictatorships. Such methods have been used by USA and others when it suits them. The democratically elected Salvador Allende of Chile was killed to bring down his popular leftist government and establish General Pinochet’s brutal fascist dictatorship, all with the connivance of the United States. There have been many attempts by the USA also to assassinate Fidel Castro, popular leader of the Cuban revolution.

It must be realized, that under the unstable capitalist system with its recurring slumps and recessions, the arms industry is always a stable and profitable enterprise, and there’s nothing like a good old war in times of recession to boost the capitalist economy, kill a few million people and make those investing in the arms industry very rich indeed.

War is good business. That’s why our troops are getting killed, and are killing others, in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Nothing to do with ‘defending our freedom’.

U.S. President says: ‘Ban The Bomb!’

How I’ve longed to write those words for the past 50 years or so, since I first heard about CND and its ‘Ban The Bomb’ campaign. Now, at long last, there is a U.S. President, Barack Obama, who seriously seems to want to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The process of reducing the vast nuclear stockpiles of the USA and USSR was given a boost by the end of the Cold War, which really occurred BEFORE the tragic collapse of the Soviet Union, during the Gorbachov years of perestroika and glasnost. But it has stalled since, and even seemed to go into reverse with the last Bush administration.

Not only do the USA and Russia need to bilaterally reduce their nuclear stockpiles, and eliminate them all together as soon as possible, but the Nuclear Non-Ploriferation Treaty needs to be dug out of cold storage and implemented in full. This means ALL countries renouncing nuclear weapons, and those that already have acquired them getting rid of them. Any countries willing to give them up unilaterally should do so as soon as possible. South Africa has already done so some years ago. Britain too should get rid of its Trident nuclear submarines, totally dependent on America and tying our foreign policy to the whims of whatever lunatic happens to be in the White House (thank goodness a sane man is there at the moment, but who knows for how long?) We have been obliged to support  U.S. foreign escapades ever since Clem Attlee foolishly signed a secret agreement to that effect in the late 1940s in exchange for U.S. nuclear bomb secrets.

The facts are, as Obama and all military men know, nuclear weapons are militarily useless. At the height of the Cold War the stand-off between East and West was known appropriately as MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction. In fact the USA and USSR could have destroyed each other, and the rest of the world, many times over. But these clinical sounding acronyms disguise the horror of blowing to atomic dust, burning alive and causing lingering deaths by cancers of millions upon millions of innocent men, women and children, not to mention animal and plant life. People are still suffering and dying from the effects of the two small atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 64 years ago this August, and babies were being born deformed for years afterwards.

Barack Obama and also military men know that nuclear weapons are little more than dangerous status symbols which did not prevent America losing the Vietnam war, did not help the Soviet Union in its Afghanistan escapade, did not stop Argentina from reclaiming the Malvinas, nor assist Britain to grab them back and rename them the Falkland Islands. They certainly did not prevent 9/11, and the very presence of nuclear weapons technology and material makes the possibility of terrorists getting hold of a crude nuclear device a very real possibility.

Obama wants to lock all this material and technology away, and start the nuclear disarmament process worldwide. That the DPRK (North Korea) chose the same day as Obama announced his plans to launch a space satellite playing jolly revolutionary tunes into orbit (press reports say the attempt failed and that the rocket landed in the Pacific Ocean) was seen by some as a provocation. In 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the military implications were immediately picked up by the world; if they could put a satellite in orbit, they could deliver a nuclear missile anywhere on the globe.

But the DPRK is not about to send nuclear missiles raining down on Hawaii or Alaska, even if it could. This latest launch may genuinely be an attempt to put the musical praises of the departed Great Leader Kim Il-Sung and his ailing son Kim Jong-Il into space, though feeding the people of the Democratic People’s Republic would seem to be a much higher priority. The real problem is not the rockets, but the warheads which might be put on them, and this applies to all countries.

In CND we had a song called ‘The Bug-Eyed Martian’. It told of a Martian visitor to our planet who discovered we were putting satellites into orbit, came down to Earth to investigate, but went back to his home planet reassured everything was OK because ‘all those great big rocket-ships are loaded up with atom bombs, they’ll never make it alive’ said he. There may be far more truth to this jolly little ditty that we realize. It is no coincidence that UFOs have been monitoring the Earth constantly since the first nuclear explosions in the 1940s. In the centuries before they did not take such a close interest in us.

Whether interplanetary/interdimensional civilizations are watching to see whether we destroy ourselves or not, it is high time we grew up and stopped playing with fire. Time the boys put away their dangerous toys forever. Thank goodness we at last have a U.S. President who realizes this, and who is determined, as he has said, to make other nations follow suit, including the UK which is one of the few nuclear powers which has actually INCREASED its nuclear stockpiles since the year 2000. As the U.S. has complete control over the Trident missile technology, they can force us to scrap our so-called ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ which never actually deterred anybody of course, nor helped us win any wars (remembering the Suez fiasco, the Malvinas/Falklands War, the 7/7 bombs in London, etc.) 

A British military man actually spoke out in the same week and said that the money spent on Trident was a total waste. A criminal waste would be more to the point, having submarines sailing around prepared to make Bin Laden look like Jesus in comparison by killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people. It makes you realize the hypocrisy of the past 60 years or so, when the biggest terrorists, setting an example to the IRA, Al Quaida and the rest, have been the nuclear terrorists; nuclear armed states threatening innocent populations with totally illegal and immoral weapons of mass destruction.

How the men (and women) who are involved in this nuclear weapons technology live with themselves I don’t know. How the Queen of England and the other Royal Family members who launch nuclear missile submarines can live with theirs I don’t know either – this is one issue on which any Head of State, elected or unelected, has a right of conscience and should say: ‘No, I will NOT launch a submarine designed to commit genocide on a scale never before seen in human history’. Would the Queen also open a concentration camp and throw a bottle of champagne on the newest gas chamber to christen it, one wonders? She probably would, as she never meddles in politics, just does what she’s bloody well told, like all those Nazis! Abdication would have been far better than agreeing to launch the wretched Polaris and Trident submarines, which is why most of us in CND were republicans and lost all respect for the spineless royals, not that many of us had much respect for them in the first place.

But I digress, at last we have a real prospect of ridding the world of these terrible, evil weapons of mass destruction which have now spread to the India/Pakistan sub-continent, and which still remain in another volatile flashpoint, the Middle East (though Israel won’t admit as to how many nuclear warheads it has).

President Obama is in a position to lead the world to a nuclear weapons free future by first reducing and then eliminating the nuclear stockpiles of all the nuclear states by agreement, and then locking away the technology. It is then the job of the UN to police the agreements, and make sure no country or group lets the nuclear weapons genie out of the bottle again. It can be done, it MUST be done.

The fact that nuclear weapons have neither stopped nor helped win any wars in the past 60 or so years should be enough military reason to get rid of them. It wasn’t the nuclear stand-off which prevented the Reds overrunning Western Europe, or the Americans storming across Eastern Europe into the Soviet Union; it was the mutual agreements signed at Yalta, Potsdam, etc. between the victors of World War II which granted spheres of influence which neither side were prepared to violate.

This is why the Americans never lifted a finger to help the Hungarians in 1956 or the Czechoslovaks in 1968, and why the Soviets only made a half-hearted attempt to annex West Berlin in the 1940s, and marched out of Vienna and eastern Austria in 1955 – each side had their clear spheres of influence. Even Yugoslavia and Albania were allowed to go their own way by the Soviets, they weren’t crucial buffer states. Nothing whatsoever to do with nuclear weapons, Yugoslavia, Albania, Finland, Austria and Switzerland were all neutral countries, didn’t have nuclear weapons yet weren’t invaded by either East or West.

All nuclear weapons ever did was bring us very close to a nuclear holocaust on at least two occasions. The Berlin crisis of 1961, when the Wall was erected, and the Cuba crisis the next year, when Castro tried to acquire a few nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union to deter another Bay of Pigs type attack by the Americans. So the closest we came to nuclear war was in 1962, and it was actually CAUSED by nuclear weapons. Far from making Castro and Cuban Socialism safe, they endangered the whole world.

The Obama presidency is the best chance we have of getting rid of these weapons for good. There is a myth that they ended the Second World War in the Far East, but it’s not true. The Japanese were already suing for peace, and the Americans knew it. What ended the war with Japan was the capitulation by the Allies to demands that the Emperor Hirohito remain on the throne, and not be tried as a war criminal. As soon as that was agreed, the war ended. To expect the Japanese, for whom kamikazi or suicide was considered honorable martyrdom, to surrender to nuclear terrorism was as stupid as expecting the suicide bombers of Al Quaida to be deterred by nuclear weapons.

The atomic bombs were dropped on those Japanese cities to show off to ‘Uncle Joe’ (Stalin), America’s supposed ally at the time. They wanted to demonstrate these weapons, but since he already had half of Europe and much of Asia soon went Communist too, if America thought they’d help roll back Communism they were wrong. Within a few years the Soviet Union had its own nuclear weapons and the Cold War and nuclear stand-off began.

All bombing of civilians is a criminal act, and how more so when nuclear bombs are used. Obama knows his country has the terrible legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on its conscience. The only country to ever use nuclear weapons has to take the lead in ridding the world of them. Countries like Britain and France can help this process by unilaterally renouncing ours. No other countries in the EU need nuclear weapons, so why do we? Its high time we scrapped Trident and used the money for far more useful things, this would also give an enormous boost to President Obama’s efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons for good.

Dave Woodland’s 50th Birthday Party

Tales From The Woods presented Dave Woodland’s 50th birthday bash at the Inn on the Green, Ladbroke Grove last nite (April 4th), and it was a great occasion with a good atmosphere, and some splendid, first-class entertainment. So good was it that people from the public bar were allowed to swarm in during the final numbers, and enjoy the talent of the TFTW House Band, Dave Sampson and Danny Rivers.

The Inn on the Green has acquired a new video screen which replaces the cumbersome wooden contraption housing the DVD player/projector, and the pull-down screen. Only problem was when, due to poor lighting behind the screen, I couldn’t locate the switches or the leads properly, and at one point dropped Brian ‘Bunter’s excellent compilation DVD into the machine itself, instead of into the groove in the drawer due to my tilting the machine upwards to get more light. But I got the DVD out, and the guv’nor got the lead sorted. The DVD had excellent footage of Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry, The Platters, The Coasters, etc. to entertain us before and in between sets.

Dave was of course there with his sister and some workmates, and there was a good turnout of Woodies including Darren and his parents, Nick Cobban (an amazing 63 years old, yet looks about 43 – I asked if he had a picture of an old man in his attic!), Ken Major, Brian Jessup, Bill Haines, Dave Carrol, Alan Lloyd, etc. plus some I didn’t know, or only knew by sight. Nice to meet and chat to Andy, who I’d seen at 100 Club gigs etc., but never really talked to before.

There was a buffet, which sadly disappeared before the birthday boy got a chance to get any, but he had a great time anyway and wasn’t bothered.

The music was excellent. I must have seen Dave Sampson before at the 2I’s reunions, but this was a full set, whereas there are so many artists at the 100 Club reunions that I didn’t remember him. I was amazed at how good he is, and backed by the excellent TFTW House Band he rocked thru Larry Williams numbers like the inappropriately named ‘Slow Down’ and ‘Bony Maronie’, some Chuck Berry – in fact a bit of everything. I was particularly impressed by Dave’s rendition of the Elvis ballad ‘Love Me’, and later on we were treated to Danny Rivers and Dave Sampson on stage singing together.

Danny also did two short sets, including ‘Little Sister’, and an incredible ‘It’s Only Make Believe’ which would have done Conway Twitty proud. Both these singers have very powerful voices.

A great evening, which even had the security guy dancing, and the original Woody (Keith of course), and your’s truly had a bop, then a woman wandered in from the public bar and tried to jive but I have never learnt to do this, and frankly she was in no fit state to teach me, so she wandered off again!

Great party Dave, and great music the other Dave, and Danny, and the guest musicians.

We should have more birthday parties like this. Which Woody will be the first to celebrate their 100th birthday rockin’ at the Inn on the Green I wonder? A splendid venue, by the way, now fitted with a chairlift for the disabled (or elderly Woodies) situated under the Westway. The imaginative way the space under this motorway has been used in this part of London just shows what can be done. You certainly don’t hear the trucks and cars passing a few feet over your heads when the TFTW bands/artists are playing.

Thank goodness for subtitles.

I’ve reached the age when I need the subtitles to understand anything on TV featuring people under about 40. This is partly due to my being a bit deaf, partly due to the different language the younger generation uses, but mainly due to the fact that people in this age group tend to speak too quickly, too indistinctly, do not enunciate, tend to either mis-pronounce or badly pronounce words and then run them together. I am often amazed at the subtitle interpretation of what people in the under-40 age group are supposed to be saying, as what comes out of their lips sounds nothing like it.

Of course subtitlers working for TV are often illiterate, or foreign, and get things wrong themselves. So there are some glaring spelling and grammatical errors, many of which are quite amusing. But it is still a Godsend. I couldn’t understand younger people in the two main soaps – EastEnders and especially Coronation Street – without subtitles.

Even with the subtitles, it becomes apparent that the under-40 generation speaks a different language from the rest of us. The verb ‘to say’ has been almost completely abandoned, for instance, in favor of the verb ‘to like’ among the more trendy sections of the younger generation. So they never say: ‘I said’ it is always ‘I was like’.

Via the soaps EastEnders and Coronation Street I learnt the meaning of otherwise meaningless words like ‘bling’, ‘Chrimbo’ and ‘laters’. In my last days at work before retirement I learnt the word ‘chav’. But it is really the almost total failure of the younger generation to speak slowly and clearly which causes the problems.

I don’t have much occasion to listen to the often inane babblings of the younger generation in real life, but on stage or on TV they might as well be speaking Albanian or Serbo-Croat – I often can only pick out the odd word here and there.

I don’t often go to the cinema nowadays, but when I do tend to choose films with actors of the older generation who were taught to speak properly. Films such as ‘The Queen’ for instance, with Helen Mirren. I avoid American films altogether, since they are the only foreign films in a foreign language to reach our shores without the benefit of subtitles.

The younger ethnic populations of the UK and USA have had a big hand in making our once common language unintelligible. Their strange vocabulary, and total failure to enunciate, make any films featuring them a complete no-no for me. Rap music can take much of the blame, as it not only uses words most of us have never even heard of, but the failure to enunciate and speak clearly is presented to us as an ethnic art-form.

So I struggle on, watching films of the last 20 or so years with the aid of TV subtitles. If I’d gone to see them at the cinema I probably would have found many quite unintelligible.

I know it’s not just because of my deafness, as even without my hearing aid I can understand perfectly what older actors are saying on TV. I never miss a word, for instance, Peggy Mitchell, Pat Butcher, Dot Cotton, or lovely Blanche Hunt says, or their male counterparts like Charlie Slater and Ken Barlow. Phil Mitchell must be under 40 still, as I sometimes have trouble understanding him.

Unfortunately, these younger actors will not suddenly start speaking clearly when they reach the big 4-0. On the contrary, in another 20 years time, if I’m still alive, I won’t be able to understand any actors under 60 without the aid of subtitles!