So who’d you have as aides if you were US President?

I was having a conversation with my old political buddy Andrew Blackburn the other day and we talked of who we would have in our team if we were the US President. It was re-watching the 1st season of The West Wing which inspired this conversation. It must be one of the best series that I’ve seen on the TV. So anyway here goes with my personal list of West Wing characters and some personal additional aides.

Those in brackets are the actors playing the parts in Season 1:-

The President (Martin Sheen) – Me of course! – Delusions of grandeur of it seems:-)

Vice President (Tim Matheson) – Phil Holden – needed to pull in the right of centre vote. All but a Republican he’s never the less far from being a right-wing nut-job. Has a fine analytical mind with which I often don’t agree but is useful in balancing my Social Liberal ‘leftie’ outlook.

Chief of Staff – Leo McGarry (John Spencer) – Andrew Blackburn – Always sees the wider picture, is very loyal and will tell me what I don’t want to hear.

Deputy Chief of Staff – Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) – David Rimmer – the most polite and successful political hit-man I ever knew – ‘Leave it to me boss, you won’t hear of it again’ and I didn’t.

Communications Director – Toby Ziegler (Richard Schiff) – David Tattersall – Turns government-speak into straightforward language voters can easily grasp.

Deputy Communications Director – Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) – Steph Prewett – The best at seeing required end results and making sure they’re achieved. As with David Rimmer, the buried bodies are never seen again.

Press Secretary – (CJ Cregg (Allison Jamney) – Layla Moran – Progressive, Liberal, naturally outgoing and likeable, has the common touch which few in politics have. She’s a natural to talk for my White House on any matter of public importance. Good to have someone of Palestinian descent in high office too.

Personal Aide to the President – Charlie Young (Dule Hill) – A young Charles Walker – Cheeky, full of fun, loyal and generous. A lifetime of wide experiences to fall back on make him an essential team member.

Secretary – Mrs Landingham (Kathryn Joosten) – Christine Polanski – 100% reliable gets rid of time wasters, knows when I need support and can make me laugh when stress levels are high.

Special advisors not a part of the West Wing –

Special Advisors Defence & Foreign Policy – Paddy Ashdown, Tom Tugendhat, Ming Campbell, Robin Cook

Special Advisor – Social Policies, housing & planning – Roy Connell

Special Advisor – Education and crime – Geoff Howe

Special Advisor – Environment and climate change – Caroline Lucas

Special Advisor – The arts, culture, broadcasting and media – Andrew Beattie

Special Advisor – Liberty, freedom, charities, poverty – Iain Brodie Browne

Special Advisors – without portfolios – Peter Gibson, Barry Smith, Dave Martin, Lord Peter Smith, Ken Clarke,

Special advisor – Transportation – Amtrak Joe

Today would have been Uncle Albert’s 100th birthday

My good friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker at Birkenhead Tramway Museum next to a restored Wallasey tram that he rode on as a boy.

If my dear Uncle Albert had made it he would have been 100 today; frankly many of us who knew him well very much expected him to make the milestone but sadly it did not come to pass and my obituary from 2017 is linked below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/01/11/goodbye-uncle-albert/

I don’t really commemorate such anniversaries but I make an exception in Uncle Albert’s case because he was exceptional. A man whom I did not get to know until he was 74 became a very close friend indeed and I loved being in his company. He was funny, cheeky, well informed, and had led a fascinating life which he loved to tell folks about. All you had to do was to sit down and listen to him and take in his wartime and wider experiences and you learned so much. His mind seemed to be one of a young man which was open to learning more and he was able to make friends with anyone he came across. I never met anyone who did not like Charles Walker – Uncle Albert was his nickname which many of his friends used.

I still miss him terribly as I could run things past him, seek his advice, and as I said before learn from his wide range of experiences.

Andrew Blackburn and I would tease him unmercifully about him being the living embodiment of the part played by Buster Merryfield in Only Fools and Horses and he loved it. Indeed, he even changed his name badge at a conference we attended with him to ‘Uncle Albert’!

Happy Birthday Uncle Albert; I know you’re not looking down on me as I’m an atheist and don’t do heaven and earth. However, the other big tease we had with Charles was that if he went anywhere it would be downwards due to the terrible and very rude RAF songs he would occasionally launch into! The first time he did it was on a car journey with Andrew Beattie (who sadly passed on in 1999), Andrew Blackburn, and myself. To say we were taken aback is putting it mildly but the 4 of us became very firm friends from that day onward – we knew we’d come across a right one!

Note – Charles lived in Poverty Lane Maghull from 1960 until his death and was a Maghull Town Councillor for 15 years or more up to the age of 90. He was originally from the Wirral but had also lived in Bootle. His daughter Carole, son-in-law Phil, grandsons, David, Michael, and their families are today holding an online quiz in his memory as he loved to attend the quizzes that were once a weekly fixture of Maghull Town Hall.

A review of 2017 – The meanderings of a Liberal Blogger

12 months in 12 blog postings – click on each link to read the posting

January – Loss of my dear friend ‘Uncle Albert’:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/01/11/goodbye-uncle-albert/

February – Not being the Tory Party:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/02/22/is-labour-just-an-alternative-tory-party-for-those-who-consider-themselves-to-be-working-class/

March – Developing land north of Maghull’s Turnbridge Road

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/03/24/lydiate-land-north-of-turnbridge-road-our-response-to-planning-application-for-34-dwellings/

April – Maghull’s parks, their maintenance and money

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/04/06/maghull-land-money-maintaining-old-hall-park/

May – Buying the Strand Shopping Centre in secretive deal

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/05/03/bootle-sefton-council-buys-back-the-strand-shopping-centre-for-how-much-thoughso-it-seems/

June – Bugger Moderation!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/06/20/moderation-bugger-that-for-a-lark-im-too-angry-about-whats-happening-to-the-uk/

July – Youth Coffee Bar gone, CAB gone – Labour’s regressive policies!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/07/29/maghull-youth-coffee-bar-gone-cab-gone-retired-bowlers-given-huge-price-hike-long-established-cricket-club-with-nowhere-to-play-just-whats-the-town-council-up-to/

August – Those who take land out of Green Belt then protest about its development!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/08/19/maghulls-vast-urban-extension-labour-blasts-development-on-land-their-local-plan-identified-for-development-you-could-not-make-this-up/

September – Rimrose Valley Country Park and the Sefton Council’s part in it’s demise

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/09/30/rimrose-valley-what-does-sefton-council-want-and-that-could-well-be-a-very-different-answer-to-what-it-says-it-wants/

October – Police move into Maghull TH but at what a cost!

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/17/maghull-the-math-behind-the-police-station-move-to-maghull-town-hall/

November – Ex Southport MP John Pugh wins Sefton Council seat by an electoral landslide

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/11/03/southport-john-pugh-takes-55-of-votes-cast-to-win-dukes-ward-by-election/

December – Maghull North Station progress

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/12/19/maghull-north-station-construction-progress-over-4-months/

So another year comes to a close. Not a good one, indeed another poor one as the UK slips further into the Brexit mire or is that jumps over the Brexit cliff? Either way no good will come of it but a lot of bad most certainly will.

Personally I lost more good friends in 2017 which is always sad yet in looking back at my posting about ‘Uncle Albert’ I can only feel that whilst I lost him I gained so much from knowing him.

As for 2018 the omens are not good and they will remain poor so long as Jeremy Corbyn remains wedded to Teresa May’s Brexit.

Heed the words of a wise elderly man – Harry Leslie Smith

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/14/1939-second-world-war-fascist-thundering-approach-hitler

The Guardian has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

Some 20 odd years ago I was given the privilege of getting to know a chap who was involved in the Second World War. Our close friendship sadly ended earlier this year when he died (well into his 90’s) but I like to think that I learned a great deal from listening to Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker about his wartime RAF experiences.

The piece above by Harry Leslie Smith deserves a wide audience because he can see what many of us may be ignoring i.e. that international leaders like Trump and Kim Jong-un (and others) may well be pushing us all towards another war.

My thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

St. Lukes Church (the bombed out church) – Liverpool

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/seven-things-you-probably-dont-13028821

The Liverpool Echo has the story on it web site – see link above

There’s been a lot of talk in recent times about how to give this iconic symbol of Liverpool in the Blitz a sustainable future. On a personal level though I can’t escape the story of what happened on the night the incendiary bomb hit St. Lukes and the fact that I had the privilege to talk with a person who was fire watching that night and saw it happen. My previous posting from 2010 refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2010/11/16/uncle-albert-he-saw-the-bombing-of-liverpool-from-a-birds-eye-view-point/

Sadly ‘Uncle Albert’ died earlier this year but whenever I see St. Lukes or hear of it I think of that brave young chap (who became one of my best mates in his mid 70’s until he passed away aged 95) standing atop George Henry Lees fire watching as Liverpool was being destroyed all around him

A great send off for Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker

Only six days after the funeral of former Maghull and Sefton Councillor Jim Byrne we had another one this time for Charles ‘Uncle Albert’ Walker, also a former Maghull Town Councillor, today.

punch-bowl-3

This was my personal tribute to Charles which his family asked me to contribute to his funeral service.

Uncle Albert

I first met Uncle Albert, then known of course as Charles Walker, when he was in his early 70’s.

He came over as a really nice chap but little did I know how our friendship would develop over the next 20+ years and that he would become a very close chum indeed.

I give you a handful of personal insights into Uncle Albert

Singing RAF songs! – It happened out of the blue during a car journey from Maghull to the Littleborough & Saddleworth Parliamentary by-election where Uncle Albert, Andrew Beattie Andrew Blackburn and myself were off to deliver leaflets. The nice gentleman sharing the back seat of the car with one of the Andrews just started to sing what I will call a risqué song of the kind those acquainted with rugby songs would understand. We knew then that we had a right one with us!

Fire watching on top of George Henry Lees during the Liverpool Blitz – Yes Charles did that and he saw incendiary bombs hitting the city all around him. One night he was at his lofty dangerous post and saw the incendiary fall and hit St Luke’s Church. Yet when he told us about it he seemed to have no comprehension of the extreme danger he had been in. To him it was his job as an employee of George Henry Lees to try to put out any fires. A brave man indeed.

Pitch and Put – He had played on the pitch and put course at Harrison Drive, New Brighton many times, especially before the war, and it showed. Neither of the Andrews nor I could beat him despite around a dozen attempts to do so on our days out with Uncle Albert around this childhood stamping ground of The Wirral.

East Lancashire Railway – Uncle Albert went with us to this persevered railway a number of times over the years and he loved it. What with steam locomotives, old fashioned carriages and travelling on them with his mates. But what he seemed to like best was the buffet facility on Bury Bolton Street Station where he would climb into an all day breakfast whilst watching steam trains pass by.

Mushroom Omelettes? – By now uncle Albert had been ‘adopted’ by both the Robertson and Blackburn families and Sheila Robertson wanted to take Charles (she always called him Charles) out for a meal. And what a hit it was as he loved the mushroom omelettes at the Stanley Arms in Aughton. Unsurprisingly Sheila kept taking him back there and he kept enjoying them.

Other visits – we took Charles to the RAF Cosford museum a couple of times, to Crich Tramway Museum, to Birkenhead Tramway Preservation Society and to the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington. He loved these trips out and was great company. At Elvington we turned around and he had disappeared only to be found later deep in conversation with another elderly ex-RAF chap talking about their life and times in the Royal Air Force. In Birkenhead he rode a Wallasey tram like those that ran in his youth and he was delighted.

And what of his times as a Maghull Town Councillor? Japanese Knotweed was one of his big campaigns. Trouble is it is still there in Foxhouse Lane despite him hounding Network Rail to eradicate it.

The potholed surface of Maghull Station car park was another, thankfully it’s now in good nick.

And what about Mrs Bradley’s Passage? It’s a short footpath that joins Poverty Lane and Summerhill Drive and was a littered and potholed mess at the time. Mrs Bradley lived next to it and she asked Charles to get Sefton Council to tidy it up regularly. In turn he gave Sefton Council grief to the extent that even the dead hand of a local authority could take it no longer and they tidied it up. But he was not satisfied and said only recently that the beggars had still not resurfaced it as they promised him they would do some 8 or 9 years ago!

He was Vice Chair of the Council’s Policy and Resources Committee for quite a number of years. Sheila Nelson chaired the committee and he enjoyed working with her. We used to joke with him that Sheila kept him in line. I think he looked upon her as his Station Commander!

To the two Andrews and I he was Uncle Albert (after the Only Fools & Horses character of course) to many others he was Charles. To the ladies he was a lovely old gentleman; to us he was a cheeky chap who was one of the boys. He may have been 35+ years older than us but he was our mate and we will miss him terribly.