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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘courage

Extreme Dog Walking

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This is the new, ultra hip, super cool sport for happenin’ dudes, dudesses and their doggies.

Started on the Dorset coast in the autumn of 2010, it has finally brought together the noble traditions of dog walking, singing in the rain and mad, British malarkey.   Contrasted with the idea that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, this is the sport where only bonkers Brits and adventurous dogs go out in a torrential storm.

You’ve never been really wet until you’ve been Extreme Dog Walking.  When the rain has been blown past horizontal, round to vertical but going upwards, then you begin to get a flavour of this exciting and challenging sport.  When you have to walk with your face turned away from the stinging shotgun pellets that are rain drops while the dogs whimper and scuttle about your feet, only then will you begin to understand the determination, courage and true grit necessary to survive and succeed in this competition to end all competitions.  Far below the sea can just be seen as a seething mass of whitewater.  As the squalls come in the whole environment darkens and the gale force winds thrash and tangle at hat and clothing.  Even with the air temperature at 17 C, the rain makes your hands freeze and your face smart.  All you can do is call the dogs on, put your head down, gird your loins, steel your determination and go forth into the turbulence.  There is no option to stop.  It is as far to go on as it is to retreat.  Forwards is the only option. Onwards to the end, to glory and glorious triumph!

As in all such endurance events the best bit is when it stops.  A first layer of saturated “waterproofs” is peeled off and then the dogs are towelled down.  Then off come the boots, often with gushes of water as each one is removed.  Finally, right down to the underwear, each soaking layer is removed and the steam begins to rise.  Then we begin to yarn, to talk of how every gust seemed bigger than the last. To boast of how we just made it through when all seemed lost, how we nearly got caught by that “gnarly” one, how we feel so “stoked” and “trashed” by our experience.  Then we sit around in our “baggies”, drinking beer and smokin’ weed, knowing that we know what others never can, knowing that up there in them thar hills is where we feel really alive, where our sport of Extreme Dog Walking makes life worthwhile!

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Jessica Ennis – Our Golden Girl

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Heading For Glory

What a wonderful performance in Barcelona.  Jessica is a delight in every way, a  formidable lady of determination, strength and courage.  She is so tiny yet so huge in spirit and presence.   She will be the star of London 2012.

And a spectacular performance by the whole British athletics team.  Perhaps, for once, we have got our timing right.  It looks like we’re heading for the most fantastic celebration in London 2012.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 31, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Obama From Britain

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After Bush, to my knowledge, the worst US President ever, I was excited about the prospect of Hilary Clinton in the White House.  The election of Barack Obama was simply stunning.  For me, it rejuvenated the whole idea of America – the noble principles of the  Constitution, the idea that anyone can rise to the very top based on merit alone.  It updated that dream by transcending race, prejudice and history.

Ordinary And Extraordinary

As it happened, I  watched his inauguration with my parents.   I  wept at Obama’s words, at the huge symbolism of his achievement, at Jesse Jackson’s overwhelming moment.  My Mum & Dad said that it was like Kennedy was for their generation – the sense of new hope and optimism.  The same idea that makes me think of Churchill’s “broad sunlit uplands”.

So what’s going on now?  I ‘m sure I don’t understand a lot about American politics.  I can only see it from my perspective.  That means I get most of my news from the BBC.  I balance that with a daily trawl through the blogs and online newspapers on the issues that interest me.

In some ways I think the BBC is more British than Britain.  In fact, I trust the BBC more than I trust any politician.  Its standards and independence preserve our national integrity better than any political leader.

Going online gives me a broader view, often composed of ridiculous extremes as well as mainstream media.  There are so many highly literate, super clever bloggers who are completely deluded and beyond any reason.  Going online provides an overall summary of all different points of view and sources of information.

I think Obama is a fundamentally decent man.  There is a coterie of bloggers who believe he is a Chicago politician just the same as when Al Capone was in town.  I think he is bigger than that.

There is also a sisterhood (men and women) of Democrats, bitter supporters of Hilary, who are determined to undermine him.  Republicans say he is un-American and claim that he won the election through fraud.

I still have faith in the man.   In the horribly murky world of American politics I don’t think he would have risen to the top unless he was very special.  I detect authenticity.

The oil spill has been his greatest challenge. I feel that when he speaks for himself, from his heart, he speaks the truth.  When he is confused and manipulated by those around him he fails.  Many will say I am naive but how can anyone triumph without support?  We need leaders who can inspire, who can make us believe in them.

From the very beginning Obama has “extended the hand of friendship” towards Iran but it becomes clearer every day now that the current regime must be condemned without reservation.   He has stood up against Israel better than his predecessors and in the overall moral balance that was well overdue.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the attempted kidnapping of Gary Mckinnon  It’s probably not high enough in his priorities to have had his proper consideration yet.

No one was more critical of Gordon Brown and his foolhardy, self-serving government than me but the way that some Americans criticise their leader horrifies me.  Some of the conspiracy theories and charges levelled against Obama are worse than those against Hitler or Mengele.  There are are so many complete nutters in America I really do wonder what they put in the water.

After re-consideration, from my British perspective, I still have faith in this extraordinary man.  I urge him to continue to have the courage of his convictions.  I wish he could put aside short term political considerations.  I think, almost whatever happens,  he will win a second term so he can afford to look at least six years in advance and ignore his critics.  I still believe in him.

Cameron Stumbles Over Kerb Crawlers

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Oh dear!  Here comes the first knee-kerk reaction.  Next thing we’ll be hanging and flogging them.   The law against kerb crawling is of very dubious value or common sense anyway.  It’s the oldest profession.  Men want to pay women for sex and women want to sell sex.  It’s been going on since time began and silly, pointless little laws aren’t going to change it.

Can I Put You Down As A Researcher?

Fair enough, stop drivers kerb crawling in residential streets and harrassing your daughters but if you don’t pair such laws with legalised brothels or designated red light districts you are just making the problem worse.

I understand David Cameron’s desire to want to do something to declare his horror at the Bradford murders but I thought we were supposed to be past this sort of politicking now?  I thought legislation was now going to based on a rational, properly researched approach to problems.

What we need to do is make it safer for women who want to work as prostitutes and call a halt to the pressures that force women into prostitution.   That means some sort of regulated sex industry and the legalisation and regulation of drugs.

It’s not rocket science.  It’s common sense.  It means you may have to face down the self-righteous, moral crusaders so it takes a modicum of courage but I thought that’s where we are now.   This is the first crack in the veneer.  Let’s hope it’s quickly mended.

The Pacific

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Until more than three-quarters of the way through, I was so, so disappointed in “The Pacific”.  Of course, it had an awful lot to live up to.  “Band Of Brothers”, its forerunner, although produced as  a TV series, has to be one of the very best war movies of all time.  “The Pacific” doesn’t even come close.   That’s not to say that it isn’t excellent in its own right because it is but it isn’t in the same league, battalion or regiment as “Band Of Brothers”.

It’s a ten part series and until epsiode five I was bored.   That’s not just because there’s a lack of action – there is – but there’s also very little characterisation or story.  In “Band Of Brothers” you feel like you’re part of the platoon yourself. You grow to know and love each individual and you experience fear, grief, tension, terror alongside all of them.  It wasn’t until epsiode eight of “The Pacific” when Sergeant Basilone falls in love with Lena, marries her and is then shipped to Iwo Jima that I felt the same searing emotional intensity.  I remember when I first watched “Band Of Brothers”, each epsiode was like experiencing an intense personal tragedy.  I would feel drained, exhausted and traumatised.  It was almost too much but although it finishes well, “The Pacific” is not quite enough.  Perhaps the most moving scene of all is in epsiode nine when Eugene comforts a dying Japanese woman.  This is magnificent film making.

I think war is the ultimate movie genre.  It describes the human condition at the very edge. Like all men, I am fascinated with horror, doubt and uncertainty about how I would behave in combat.  I deplore violent films but when the story requires it, realism is essential.  A war movie should make you understand the reality in detail, explicitly and make you turn away from violence.

My old friend Bruce won an Emmy and a Golden Globe working as a producer on “Band Of Brothers” and I remember talking to him about the sound of gunfire.  He explained the effort involved in achieving a more realistic sound than ever before.  You can hear how in every movie thereafter it’s been picked up and enhanced.

“The Pacific” does take realism even further.  The spray of blood that bursts from a soldier’s body as he is hit, the red mist that appears around a group of soldiers as shrapnel lacerates them is horrifying.  The graphic dismemberment and vile, grotesque injury that nowadays we see soldiers survive is beyond words.  At times the cast is wading through a sea of body parts, of arms, legs, hands, feet.  I think we now accept the shocking reality of this because today we see the survivors of such injury. At last, in the battle for Iwo Jima, “The Pacific” begins to communicate the deeply distressing heroism, the humbling, horrifying courage that these young men, our forefathers, summoned up to free the world from tyranny and allow us to enjoy the freedom that we do today.

There is a real mistake in some of the earlier episodes when many of the scenes are just too dark.  There isn’t even the excuse of it being made for the big screen.  It’s just wrong.  Also some of the CGI, particularly in wide shots of amphibious landings for instance, doesn’t work.  It’s not as convincing as the more primitive, model based effects in “Band Of Brothers”

There is one part of “The Pacific” that deserves the very highest praise.  The titles are quite simply one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen on television or at the cinema.  They consist of extreme close ups of an artist drawing battle scenes with charcoal.  As the charcoal disintegrates into dust and splinters on the page it mixes through to become the detritus of battle, the dirt, dust and shrapnel of combat.  The backgrounds merge with finely textured, laid paper, with live action, graphics and animation.  It really is quite breathtakingly, achingly beautiful.  All the more so so because its subject is precisely the opposite.  The wonderful, haunting theme music is the same as “Band Of Brothers”.  At least that’s the way I hear it.  If it isn’t then it’s been composed to be so similar that they might as well have stuck with the original.

All in all, I did, eventually, greatly enjoy “The Pacific”.  Most of all though it shows just how bloody marvellous  “Band Of Brothers” is.

Truth, Justice And The Scottish Way

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Braveheart

Braveheart

Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice  Minister, can hold his head high.  I believe he will go down in history with William Wallace,  Robert the Bruce and other great Scottish heroes.

Brave Scot

Brave Scot

As for the putrid, small-minded contribution from Robert Mueller, the Director of the FBI, I say get back to Hicksville with Jethro and your cousins and take your thuggish, corrupt opinions with you.  Since it lost its way under George Bush, America is in no position to lecture anyone about justice.  The proud and wonderful principles expressed in its constitution have been besmirched by Bush, Guantanamo Bay, illegal rendition and, as far as the FBI is concerned, we can go all the way back to the 50s and McCarthyism to see how much justice matters to it.

Mad Mullah

Mad Mullah

America has many uncomfortable questions to answer about its own complicity in the story of Pan Am flight 103.  Scotland has behaved with honour and courage.

Wholly, Exclusively And Necessarily

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If your expenses do not pass that test then you have broken the rules.  It’s black and white.  Forget the background, the explanation, that you deserve a bigger salary, how busy you were at the time,  saying you were only obeying the rules (“orders” in the Nuremberg defence).  All these miscreant MPs must be brought to account and if the police are not going to have the courage to take the necessary steps then some other method must be devised by which to bring these cheats before the courts.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 14, 2009 at 10:14 pm