• We’re not going on a summer holiday!

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    Everybody has childhood memories. One memory of mine dates from 1963 when I was eight. Mum, Dad and me went to the Odeon cinema on the corner of the Headrow and Briggate in Leeds. It turned out to be the second most popular movie at the British box office in 1963. It was a happy film.

    The reason for the YouTube video clip and the mentioning of the film at the top of this post is that this old memory came up as I began writing. This was because in this time of momentous events taking place around us old memories of my childhood are occasionally prominent.

    Why?

    Because: Politics aside, the events before during and after “Brexit” and the “Coronavirus Crisis” are historic and momentous and are and will effect the lives of all of us. Some of us will be affected to a very minor degree. Others will be affected to the degree of death. Most will be somewhere in between these two extremes.

    Although I was born a decade after WW2 was legally terminated aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay in September 1945, my upbringing was heavily influenced by “The War”. This because “The War” had transformed the lives of my parents.

    At this time I am very aware that my existence as a person was determined by a series of events long before my birth. I am the product of my father’s second marriage. His first marriage ended due to the death through illness of his first wife. The marriage was childless due to the first Mrs Bernard Rogers being unable to conceive. My father was an electrical engineer. This was another major factor in me being here today. The vast majority of the British public will assume from the description “electrical engineer” my father was an electrician. He was not. He was a professional man who was in charge of electricians. Had he been an electrician he could very well have been drafted into the military and I would not have existed. My father was what was known as “a reserved occupation”.

    As for my mother, she had two very significant factors in her life. One was the year of her birth, 1921. You see that was a very significant year to be born for she became 18 in 1939 the year “The War” started. The other significant factor was that she was born female. This for a anyone in the UK born in 1921 was a very great advantage! Thus instead of being free to volunteer for something incredibly dangerous such as flight crew in RAF Bomber Command Mum volunteered for the Womans’ Land Army. However, here fate was to cast a fatal thrall upon her. This because one of Mum’s wartime jobs was to milk diary cows.

    “What is so dangerous about that?” I hear you shout.

    This:

    As part of her duties, Mum had to thoroughly wash the milk churns before the milk was put in. This was done with cold water in summer and ice cold water in winter. Mum did this for the duration of the war – 1939 – 1945. As a result, this young woman of twenty four left the WLA with damage to her circulatory system. Following the cessation of hostilities, Mum underwent training to be a school teacher in the War Emergency Training Programme. After the war Mum also as a result of her deepened Christian faith, became a Methodist lay preacher. Mum returned to Leeds in 1945 and lived with her mother, her elder sister having married and moved into a marital home of her own.

    Thus, not only did the events of “The War” provide the unborn me with a father, it provided me with a mother and also the status of an only child. This because the circulatory damage done by five winters (1939-1944) had caused Mum to have a very difficult and life threatening confinement which resulted in a decision by my parents that there would be no more children of the a marriage.

    Thus it was that “The War” has affected my life until the present day. Of Mum, I believe the circulatory damage done by those five winter milkings not only provided me with being the ultimate sole beneficiary of my parents estate – not having to share with a sibling – it also was the cause of Mum’s death through a massive stroke brought about by the damage. It is now popular to ascribe blame to every possible event; for me, Mum’s death was wholly attributable to the actions and decisions of a certain unlamented Adolf Hitler.

    The events and history contained in the above biographical synopsis, describe how and why I am writing this post in West Cornwall and not the West Riding.

    Here again, the dead hands of history and happen-stance have conspired to place me in a highly advantageous position than the position I could have occupied.

    Firstly, BG readers will have been unable to avoid hearing the news that the police – our new public guardians during this emergency – have decided that driving from one’s home to a beauty spot to take one’s permitted daily exercise does not constitute and essential journey; thus restricting by authoritarian fiat millions of citizens living in built up areas to take this daily exercise within walking distance of their homes. I of course are similarly affected and yet wholly dissimilar as well. This because I am not condemned to walk the pavements of the suburban housing estate of my childhood but the beautiful Cornish coats which is within walking distance.

    There is also a second fundamental difference. A significant transmission factor in the spread of COVID-19 is population density. West Yorkshire has a far higher population density than West Cornwall. Furthermore, I used to live in a city and now live in a rural village.

    However – warning; at this point the BG will endure the wrath of the politically correct – there is a third fundamental difference. In the West Riding there is a significant South Asian Muslim population. This population has been significantly worse affected by COVID-19 than other parts of diverse 21st Century Britain. Were I living where I used to I would be at significant greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 infection than I am at present.

    This FACT is of course something the authorities are extremely anxious to suppress. This is why I cannot (unlike some of my present neighbours) find it in my heart to begrudge or condemn the many second home owners fleeing their first homes in their cosmopolitanism city communities to take up residence in the coastal and rural retreats of Cornwall.

    Although I am at reduced risk of contracting COVID-19, that risk is still there. Furthermore, the tragic death recently of a 16 year old teenage girl not believed to have had any underlying health conditions in France demonstrates that all of us have to a greater or lesser extent a risk of death were we to be infected with COVID-19.

    All of which brings me back to Summer Holiday. This because my (currently 2,240 days or 6 years, 1 month and 20 days) existence here in West Cornwall has felt like a holiday. I have settled in my new community. I am most definitely NOT homesick! But West Cornwall is not home. Neither any more is Leeds. This is because my Leeds home is no more. It is not the Leeds of the Odeon cinema but of the Primark store.

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