The Great Repeal Bill – a nonsense name – it is The Great Incorporation Bill

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Actually the Bill is an “incorporation” of all existing EU laws and regulations into UK law. The Bill is repealing nothing except the jurisdiction of the EU and European Courts. Apart from necessary technical changes about the naming of authorities who will arbitrate when there are disputes nothing will be different.

EU workers’ rights as they exist today will become UK workers’ rights, EU environmental laws will become UK environmental laws and so on and so forth. Of course at some time in the future it is possible that a democratically elected UK government may seek to improve upon existing, that is previously EU, laws in the interests of the UK – but that will be a decision of just that, a democratically elected UK government.

The Bill should more correctly referred to as ‘The Great Incorporation Bill’ designed as it is to incorporate EU laws and regulations into UK law.

Continental European History shapes thinking in a different way to the UK

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In the early 1980s Anthony Sargeant had a lovely Hungarian girl friend, Judit, whose elderly parents during their lives in the 20th Century and living through two World Wars,  had had three different nationalities because of central European border changes: and that is not to mention the German Occupation during the Second World War.

Another example:  Strasbourg was German then French then German then French again (albeit now within the German dominated EU).

Going further back in history one might consider the changes, not to mention the devastation of the 30 years war.

By contrast the island of Great Britain was not part of these upheavals – and so it is difficult for the British to truly understand the psyche of Continental Europeans.

In the 19th Century the European Powers appointed a German, King Otto, to govern Greece after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire (Prince Phillip is of course a direct descendant). Curiously this ‘appointment’ was repeated in the 21st Century when the EU and European Central Bank effectively appointed an ex-Goldman Sachs Director as the Greek Prime Minister to enforce the ECB’s austerity requirements for the benefit of the Eurozone and thus the German economy.

Plus ca change …..

Scottish Independence – but independent from whom?

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If he was Scottish Anthony Sargeant would vote for Independence. He would not however then vote to throw that Independence away by joining the EU and adopting the Euro. It seems that this is what the SNP is in effect proposing to do.

It seems to Tony that to become a ‘bit player‘, a ‘minor province‘ slightly larger than Lithuania (and probably with as much genuine influence) in the great European Superstate dominated and controlled by Germany via Brussels and the European Central Bank would make a nonsense of Independence. It would make Scotland a Vassal state in a new German Empire.

Before anybody protests that Scotland would not have to adopt the Euro it is as well to point out that NEW members are being required to adopt the Euro following a number of policy decisions post 1992 Maastricht, and Copenhagen. Following Independence from the rest of the UK and even in the interim, while negotiating EU membership, Scotland could surely not continue to use the £ sterling. That would be impossibly complicated. So what are they to do?

Furthermore it would not just be a case of the proportion of EU control over day to day life in Scotland remaining the same as it is now because the stated aim is for greater and greater integration of political, economic and social structures. So Scotland will find itself losing its independence year by year as Germany through the Brussels politburo extends it control.

In addition if the EU is to survive it has to take greater direct control of the financial affairs of member states through the Eurozone (and in the transition period Exchange Rate Mechanism II as with Denmark). To do this the European Central Bank will need to govern and ‘harmonise’ taxation and other financial instruments across the EU. ‘Harmonise’ sounds such a pleasant and harmless European buzz-word until one unpicks its true meaning which is to take away government from national, in this case Scottish, level and replace it with centralised decisions taken by the European Commission and European Central Bank.

In the context of EU finances it would be interesting to know to what extent Scotland would become a net contributor to the EU budget supporting Greece and a number of other failing economies with massive youth unemployment. If the oil and gas revenues turn out to be much larger than previously thought Scotland will surely have to make a very large net contribution thereby decreasing the revenue available to the Scottish Government to use for the direct benefit of Scottish infrastructure and services. Although in reality of course Holyrood’s power to allocate its own resources will diminish year on year as control seeps away to Brussels. Eventually leaving Holyrood as a sort of Parish Council along with other small provincial governments (of other previously and similarly proud nation states) within the European Superstate.

Furthermore and in relation to financial matters  Scotland will not, as a member of the EU, be able to control its very valuable asset, the fisheries. Spanish Super-Trawlers will continue to cause devastation to this valuable resource, landing their above quota catches in Spanish ports with impunity, and with no benefit to the Scottish people.

Finally, and one knows the Basil Fawlty instruction, “Whatever you do don’t mention the war”. Nonetheless, Scottish people died in huge numbers in two world wars fighting against an aggressive Germany. The last war against The Third Reich was in the lifetime of Tony Sargeant and he does wonder what those who fought and died would think of a Scotland that voluntarily voted to abandon any new won independence and become part of a new German Empire in the guise of the EU, in effect a Fourth Reich?

Spring Snowflakes on a Sunny Sunday in Shropshire

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Anthony J Sargeant thought the reader might like the alliteration – they look like snowdrops but flower slightly later in early spring in England (today is 2nd April 2017). It has been a beautiful Spring day. (Spring Snowflakes – Leucojum vernum)

Morning Assembly in an English Grammar School in the 1950s

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Morning Assembly at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham Boys’ School 1955-62

In reading this note Anthony Sargeant points out that it is important to understand that the day to day running of the school was organised and controlled by the Prefects. The masters taught their subjects but did not have to concern themselves with mundane matters such as the wearing of correct uniform, behaviour in the school playground during breaks, supervising queues for school dinners at lunchtime, or reporting boys who arrived late after the bell had been sounded for the school to line up in the playground ready for morning assembly.

These organisational matters were entirely looked after by the Prefects of whom there were usually about ten. These boys wore undergraduate Oxbridge type gowns throughout the school day, and had a distinctive navy blue tie with two royal blue diagonal stripes. In 1955 all of the boys still wore school caps including the prefects who may have been 18 or 19 years old and who had a distinctive prefects cap. The prefects had there own room above the headmaster’s study from which they could survey the school playground and when necessary hold a Prefects’ Court to determine punishment for serious misbehaviour.

As well as the ‘Full’ prefects there was a further group of ‘Probationary’ prefects who also had a small common room of their own which had originally been the entrance vestibule of the main school hall.

Finally sixth-form boys also had a role in the running of the school. Each of the 1st to 5th year classes had two sixth-form ‘representatives’ who supervised morning assembly, and some of these sixth-formers would also be delegated to patrol the school buildings and grounds at break and over the lunch hour. They were authorised to hand out the writing of lines as punishment to the younger boys for infringements such as being in a classroom during the lunch break without permission.

Prefects of course had the additional sanction of putting boys into the Prefects’ Detention which took place after school on Wednesday for an hour. I only incurred one such detention when I was in the fourth form, aged 15. I walked out of the school gates at 4.00pm with my school cap in my hand ready to put it on. Martin Symms a prefect was hiding around the corner and I thought quite unjustly gave me a detention. I felt aggrieved.

For serious or repeated offences boys could be summoned to a Prefects Court which could sentence miscreants to corporal punishment, either a slippering, or for more serious misbehaviour a caning, across trousered bottoms while touching toes.

But to return to morning assembly. One of the prefects would come down into the playground at 8.45 and ring a handbell which was the signal for boys to line up in the playground in their classes. The form-captain would note down any who were absent on a small slip ready for the countersignature of the master who was taking the first lesson of the day. The slip was then taken by the form-captain to the school secretary’s office at morning break.

There no formal registers called as happened in Primary School with a teacher calling out names and putting a tick or cross against each child’s name. Aske’s system saved on teaching time and was efficient in the first few years. Once we reached the fourth form however and were divided up into ‘sets’ for a range of different GCE ‘O’ level choices it was impossible for the master taking the first class of the day to know if the absence slip was correct or not for the whole form. This allowed for collusion over absences if one was friendly with the form captain, and I was.

But to return to the line up in the school playground. It was also the opportunity for checks on school uniform. With boys at that time there were a number of stress points that had to be managed by the prefects.

Socks – in the first and second years so up to the age of 13 or 14 nearly all boys wore short grey flannel trousers and then it was obvious that you had to wear regulation school grey woolen knee socks. But once boys graduated to long trousers socks were not normally visible and around the late 1950s a fashion for fluorescent socks developed. Lime green was a favourite colour amongst the rebels but bright orange and yellow also featured. And so from time to time there would be spot ‘sock inspections’ where, as we stood in line waiting to go into assembly, we had to pull our trousers up to reveal our socks to the inspecting prefects – infringement of school rules would certainly have merited a Prefects’ Detention.

Trousers – Similar stress points arose with respect to the tightness of trousers (it was the days when narrow ‘drainpipe’ trousers were fashionable) and there was a minimum width prescribed. In cases of doubt boys would sometimes have to take there trousers off during the line-up for the width at the bottom to be checked with a ruler – much to the amusement of form-mates.

Shoes – The other stress point was the ‘pointed-ness’ of shoes. It was the time of ‘winkle-pickers’ and any shoe deemed too pointed like all the other possible infringements would have been punished with detention and the instruction to wear more suitable shoes for the next day.

When all the preliminaries were completed we processed into the school hall. First formers in line abreast at the front closest to the stage and sixth formers at the back. School Prefects arranged themselves around the edge watching for any misbehaviour which included talking during the assembly.

Each boy was issued with a hymn book on entry into the school and we had to cover these with brown paper and have them ready for morning assembly. From time to time prefects would carry out a ‘hymn book inspection’ as we filed out of morning assembly to see if (a) we had out hymn book with us and (b) that it was properly covered – failure on either count was punishable with a Prefects’ Detention.

The format for Morning Assembly remained unchanged during my time at Aske’s.

Once the whole school was assembled (by the way we stood throughout assembly) the staff, wearing academic gowns (but not hoods or mortar boards except on special occasions), would process in from the back of the hall, followed by the head master, who for most of my schooldays was Mr E Goddard, MA Oxon – Corpus Christi (‘Ned’ or ‘Neddie’ to the boys but never to his face of course). Once on the stage some 4 or 5 ft above the boys The headmaster would announce the hymn and Mr Smith the school music teacher would accompany us on the Steinway Grand (a gift from the Haberdashers’ Company).

After the hymn one of the prefects wearing his undergraduate gown would climb the steps up to the stage and read the lesson for the day from the wooden lectern after which the headmaster would say prayers ending with the traditional Lords Prayer “Our Father Whichart… in heaven” (schoolboy joke but note “which” not “who” – a liturgical and theological point for the cognescenti) and “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” and so forth.

There would then be announcements by the Headmaster and any awards – cups to successful house teams in cricket, rugby or athletics, or awards to individual boys for success in various spheres. I only had one such mention when I went up onto the stage to receive my Rugby Colours – a prized distinctive tie. The Head master congratulated me but then as he presented me with the tie remarked with a smile and sotto voce “Well about time you did something, isn’t it Sargeant”. He might have added “like turning up more regularly” but didn’t. He was a good man with a liberal reforming approach to school-mastering.

There would be announcements about school clubs meeting that day and some words about behaviour or misbehaviour if such had been noted by the headmaster. On some occasions the Headmaster would make specific reference to some misdemeanour and the punishment meted out. I remember when the Headmaster, following a lecture about the evils of smoking, announced to a somewhat shocked assembly that he had caned a very senior boy and Probationary Prefect, Wharton, for doing so after a school play.

After assembly the head master would lead the staff off the stage and out of the hall and the boys would file out to the first lesson under the supervision of the prefects.

The routine was consistently the same except on Speech Day, Remembrance Day, and the final end of term assembly. Of which more later.

Omelette Arnold Bennett on the plate

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The omelette cooked by Anthony Sargeant and shown in the cooking pan in the previous post is big enough for four large portions. Here the photograph shows one quarter served very simply with some peas, a spicy stuffed pepper and some pickled gherkin.