Goodbye Uncle Albert

I have mentioned Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker many times on this blog site even though he was not my Uncle nor was his name Albert. He was though a close personal friend over the past 20 years+ and sadly he died this morning at the age of 95.

Charles and I at his 91st Birthday Party in the Punch Bowl Pub, Sefton Village

Charles and I at his 91st Birthday Party in the Punch Bowl Pub, Sefton Village

Yes he was old, he had been admitted into hospital yesterday and he was physically frail but his death came as a huge shock bearing in mind Sheila and I had visited him yesterday afternoon and had been laughing and joking with him up until 5pm. It seems that pneumonia crept up and took him very quickly despite the great care he got in Aintree Hospital A&E and later on Ward 1.

I first came across him when at the age of 74 he decided to get involved in Liberal politics. He soon got himself elected to Maghull Town Council and even had a lady offer to marry him when he was out canvassing in his first election! He served as a Town Councillor until he was 90!

Charles completing a form to protest about building on Maghull's Green Belt.

Charles completing a form to protest about building on Maghull’s Green Belt.

He got his ‘Uncle Albert’ nickname because he would often tell stories about his days in the RAF during WW2 when he had been an aircraft electrician working in the UK, Gibraltar and in Italy. The Only Fools and Horses character seemed to fit Charles so well that the name stuck and he even changed his name badge at one conference we attended to read ‘Uncle Albert’ rather than Charles Walker. And that kind of summed Charles up in that he was game for a laugh about anything.

He was very fit until he reached his mid 80’s and would regularly be out delivering Lib Dem leaflets with a group of us called ‘The Nutters’; we had a quiz team of the same name as well. The core members were Uncle Albert, Andrew Blackburn, Andrew Beattie (sadly now passed on as well) and myself.

I recall so well the visits we had to the Littleborough and Saddleworth by-election not least because uncle Albert would start to sing RAF songs in the car. If you know what rugby songs are like you have got my drift!

Charles Walker with his Grandfather in Vale Park Wallasey-1923or4.

Charles Walker with his Grandfather in Vale Park Wallasey-1923or4.

Charles was born in Egremont on the Wirral and he lived there until he married Margaret when they moved first to Bootle and then in 1960 to Maghull. His Poverty Lane bungalow had been his home since the day it was built.

He worked at George Henry Lees in Liverpool up until he was called up in WW2 and he was in the Home Guard as a lad. Yes, he got called ‘Private Pike’ as well when we were teasing him. His stories of fire watching on top of GHL’s during the Liverpool Blitz were astonishing to us as he seemed to have little concern about the danger he had been in. And he saw St. Lukes Church go up in flames from that dangerous vantage point too.

He clearly loved his time in the RAF and could still rattle off a long list of aircraft he had worked on, how he had met and spoken to Field Marshal Montgomery (whose brother was a Vicar in Wallasey at the time who Charles knew) and been close to Winston Churchill.

After the war he worked in both the sugar and metal plating trades in Liverpool and he only retired when in his 70’s. He was also a regular attender at Goodison Park as an Everton supporter until the early 1970’s. Only last weekend we were exchanging texts as both Everton and my club (Mansfield Town) had matches on.

He had a life-long interest in aircraft, railways and ships so being a railway buff myself Charles and I got on very well, often exchanging books, videos and magazines with each other.

In recent years Charles suffered mobility problems but until about 3 months ago he was regularly getting a taxi to The Square in Maghull to visit shops there. He was well known and liked at Waterfields, Home Bargains, Superdrug and TSB.

Charles Shaking hands with Wing Commander Greg Smith at RAF Gibraltar in 2013

Charles Shaking hands with Wing Commander Greg Smith at RAF Gibraltar in 2013

His wife was taken into care in 2013 because of dementia but later that year his daughter Carole and son-in-law Phil took him on a cruise which took in Gibraltar where he had been stationed for around 3 years during his national service. What’s more they had arranged for him to visit RAF Gibraltar and meet the Station Commander. His grandson also took him, only 3 months ago, to the RAF Museum at Cosford where he had been twice before with Andrew and I. Of course he loved all these outings.

Particularly since 2013 Sheila, Andrew and I had taken Charles under our wing and helped him as much as we could alongside his loving family. Indeed, Charles was considered to be a part of our family and indeed Andrew’s. Wednesday night would always be beer and chips night at Uncle Albert’s for Andrew and I (and Jen would pop along as well sometimes). He then decided to name his bungalow ‘Poverty Pub’.

A trip out to the Stanley Arms was a favourite of his and Sheila made sure he went about once a month. He loved their omelette and chips.

Charles will have known countless people in Maghull during his 66 years living there and he treated virtually everyone he met as though they were his friends. A kind generous man indeed who rarely had a bad word to say about anyone. I so recall after the Brexit vote how upset he was about Polish people being told to get out of the UK by ignorant people. To Charles the Poles were WW2 heroes and he was disgusted at the way some had been spoken to since June 2016.

I have lost a close personal friend who enriched my life immeasurably and I will miss him terribly.

‘Moderate’ Tim takes the gloves off as Jeremy goes UKIP-lite!

I am the first one to say that I think Tim Farron over eggs his ‘moderate’ approach to things and I seriously wish he would drop that word from his speeches. But hey there’s nothing moderate about this response to JC!

Tim Farron responds to Corbyn speech
By Greg Foster on January 10, 2017

Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has responded to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on Brexit.

Tim Farron said: “This confirms what we all suspected, that Jeremy Corbyn never had his heart in fighting to protect Britain’s place in Europe.

“He failed to pull a shift to keep us in the EU before the referendum and now he is helping Theresa May, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson yank us out of the single market.

“He called for Article 50 to be invoked the day after the referendum and is now egging ministers on towards a Hard Brexit.

“He is giving a speech signing up to the Vote Leave £350 million myth, he might as well go the whole hog and borrow their bus. I imagine it still has the lie slapped on the side of it.

“On immigration, we are still no clearer about Labour’s position than when Jeremy Corbyn’s deputy admitted Labour is hopelessly split. Jeremy Corbyn has ceased to be Leader of the Opposition to become cheerleader in chief for the Conservative Brexit government.”

And in case Tim’s comments are thought to be a little over the top the Guardian ran an article only 6 weeks ago on 26 Nov 2016 which said – ‘Labour will not win a general election if it lurches to the right to become “Ukip-lite”, Diane Abbott has said.’

Corbyn embraces Brexit? What on earth is going on?

I’m no socialist and no Labour supporter but I have often felt that the media has had it in for Corbyn. Yes, of course he is no great leader of men and women but he does have principles even if I don’t subscribe to them personally. For what it is worth my view is that he has done the right thing in taking the Labour Party back to its socialist roots.

However, with regard to the EU Referendum Labour, under his leadership, has adopted more opposing positions than you can shake a stick at!

It was obvious from day one of the EU campaign that Labour were not sure which side of the fence they were on. In the end, by what seemed like a slim internal leadership majority, they backed Remain but the lack of enthusiasm was there for all to see. Don’t get me wrong I am the first to acknowledge that some high profile Labour politicians really did back Remain with everything (Gordon Brown comes to mind) they had but the leadership’s heart was simply not in the fight.

Since the result of the referendum Labour has clearly been in a muddle with conflicting noises both pro and anti the EU leaking out of their bunker. Now with little more than a whimper Jeremy Corbyn announces that Labour is backing Brexit so firmly joining the UKIP/Tory camp! You really could not make this up but happening it is.

I realise that many of what Labour would call its ‘working class’ supporters have been voting UKIP in recent times and that by implication therefore many of them voted to leave the EU but Labour is supposed to be a progressive party of the left not a regressive party of the right. So at the very time Labour goes back to its socialist roots it also manages to embrace the greatest right wing conspiracy campaign we have seen in living memory!

This also means that on the biggest issue of our times the opposition in Parliament is being led by the Lib Dems and SNP because the major opposition party has in effect crossed the floor. Yes I am sure they will make a big noise over the dots and commas of the Brexit debate but on the fundamental issue of principle Labour, under Jeremy Corbyn, have in my view become little more than collaborators with the Tories and UKIP.

And to think that only a couple of years ago Labour were, and with some justification, saying that the Lib Dems were propping up a Tory Government. How things change in such a short time.

But you know what I really can’t get my head around is that the EU has been a really positive body with regard to workers rights, social inclusion/social justice, environmental policy etc. All these things you would expect the Labour Leadership to shout from the roof tops but instead they back Brexit. As I say you could not make this up. But hey I’m a Liberal, many Labour Party folk seem too right wing to me.

Gove – The man who has had enough of experts, or not?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38408686

The BBC has the article on its web site

Michael Gove talks of a Civil War without muskets and alludes to the Parliamentarians winning the war. His grasp of history is slipping in that after a period of turmoil there was a restoration on the 26th May 1660, albeit changed for the better by improved parliamentary constitutional procedures restraining an hitherto unbridled/autocratic executive.

As Jorge Augustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás the Philosopher better known as George Santayana said “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.

To which should be added:

“But those who have learnt from history can apply the lessons learnt – otherwise mistakes are just an expensive education wasted”

With thanks to Bob for this interesting take on the eccentric Mr Gove who does not believe in experts, except those he agrees with of course!

Brexit?- ‘well not if it will cost me money’

www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/10/poll-public-will-not-accept-brexit-worse-off-tim-farron-ukip-lib-dem-yougov

The Guardian newspaper has the story on is web site – see link above

It is probably fair to say that some voters would willingly suffer any amount of person financial loss to leave the EU ‘at any cost’, but they will be a tiny minority of course and usually very wealthy too.

BREXIT WILL AFFECT THE POUND IN YOUR POCKET

But this article on the Guardian web site shows how many folks, who clearly voted for Brexit, are now seemingly concerned that it will cost them money. In other words they voted out but not ‘at any cost’ to themselves.

Of course financial loss to the UK economy, a falling value of the Pound etc. were almost inevitable following a Brexit vote but it seems some who voted with the Leave campaign had not realised that this would in turn have a detrimental effect on their own personal finances. Odd I know but there you have it. The law of unintended consequences kicking in?

So how is Mrs May(hem) going to sell a deal to the UK population that means they will be worse off? She often uses the meaningless mantra of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ but it seems she should change it to ‘Brexit means cost you’.

My thanks to Roy Connell for picking up on this story.

Brexit cost – I will be looking for my money back from Brexit voters; its their debt not mine!

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-economic-impact-uk-autumn-statement-debt-loss-household-1250-institute-for-fiscal-studies-a7437131.html

Surely it is only fair that Brexit voters should be making payments to us Remainers for the financial misery they are likely to cause us. After all it’s their project that they voted for and many of them did so ‘at any cost’. Well one of those costs should be compensating those of us who did not share their 1950’s rose-tinted spectacled view of the world:-))))

Thanks to Roy Connell for spotting this story.