Tag Archives: current affairs

Dawsons Field: Part 1

EL ALThe Pilot suddenly plunged the airliner into a steep nosedive throwing the two hijackers off their feet. Back in the passenger cabin, Flight Attendants grappled with the female on the floor. Also thrown, the male in desperation hurled his hand grenade down the aisle. By some miracle it failed to explode. As he pulled his gun and shot and wounded a Cabin Steward, he was hit over the head with a whisky bottle by a passenger. The last thing he heard was the bullet from the gun of the Sky Marshall that brought the heist to and end. With all passengers shaken but safe, the airliner made an emergency landing at London Heathrow and the hijack was over.

No, not snippet from a thriller novel or my first attempt at a short story but what really happened on EL AL Israel Airlines flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York via Amsterdam with 148 on board in September 1970. If you have forgotten or are too young to know, 9/11 was not the world’s first spectacular multiple hijacking. Why September seems to be the optimum month for such events I do not know and how much a part the events of 1970 had to play on the timing and style of 9/11 can only be guessed at. As events unfolded, they threw the world at the time into chaos causing acrimony between the UK and the USA, leading an Arab state to implore Israel to strike other Arab states on its behalf, almost bringing the entire Middle East to war, superpowers to loggerheads and shaping the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it stands today.

imageEL AL 219 was one of three international flights originally targeted for hijack along with TWA 741 from Frankfurt to New York with 155 on and Swissair 100 also with 155 on heading from Zürich to New York. What is it about New York and hijacks? The Israeli plane was seized shortly after leaving Amsterdam and due the swift actions of the Flight and Cabin crews the male hijacker was killed in the air and the female, a Leila Khaled, was overcome and handed to the UK authorities where she was interned. What no-one knew, and again in a chilling similarity with 9/11, was that not all the hijackers had made it on board. Two were left at the gate in Amsterdam. Not to be thwarted, these two bought tickets to board Pan American 93 heading from Amsterdam to New York with 162 on board. Seems like hijacking planes was as easy as stealing cars in those days.

Dawsons field

Dawsons Field

With the EL AL jet safe on the ground in London, the TWA and Swissair flights headed to a little known former Royal Air Force Base in Jordan known then as Dawsons Field (Zarka today). The Pan American flight, a Boeing 747 and the largest of the 3 airliners captured, needed a longer runway to land on than Dawsons Field offered. The flight touched down in Beirut to pick up additional hijackers and explosives, and then headed for Cairo. All in a 1970′s hijackerman’s normal working day really.

The last and unexpected piece of the puzzle was the taking of British flight BOAC 775 heading to London from Bahrain with 114 on board. 775 joined the party with the Swiss and American flights at Dawsons Field while Pan Am 93 sat on its lonesome in Cairo.

And so the eyes of the world focused on the remote and little known former RAF base in the deserts of Jordan known as Dawsons Field from where ripples would spiral bringing superpowers and global allies to logger heads and the armies of the Middle East mobilising for war.

(to be continued…)

Israel may be behind chemical weapons use in Syria?

knessetI saw this bizarre headline on my Twitter feed a couple of hours before I went to bed last night.  I would normally have just shrugged it off as another hysterical ‘blame the Jews for all the world’s evils’ rhetoric that is worryingly becoming more prevalent today.  Yet remembering the recent sickening media photos of Syrian civilians, allegedly victims of a chemical weapons attack by Syria’s brutal President Bashar Assad, I stopped and took notice – not least because the story was shared by two of Israel’s own popular newspapers – The Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz.  These reports were fresh as I wrote last night and not yet reflected in other media by the time I turned out the light and hit the sack.

It seems that ‘former Bush Administration official’, retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson has claimed publicly that the alleged use of chemical weapons that made global headlines recently may be a ‘false flag operation’ by Israel to implicate the Syrian President (i.e. that it was Israel that actually used the weapons on Syrian civilians) – something I find preposterous.  Col Wilkerson also went on to say that considering the ‘flaky’ evidence, the use of chemical weapons could just have easily been the work of the Syrian opposition as well as the obvious culprit, Assad.

The introduction of weapons of mass destruction into the conflict has raised the stakes all round in the unfolding events in Syria and there is much scrutiny both in Jerusalem and in Washington of the ‘red line’, which US President Obama said should not be crossed for risk of drawing American intervention by which he is reported to have been referring to the use of chemical weapons as a trigger for a robust US response.

As I have written about before, the turmoil of the ‘Arab Spring’ has backed Israel into a precarious position with destabilisation on virtually all its borders. Egypt to the south has a new radical Islamist and anti-Israeli government in place and civil unrest between secularists and Islamists is heated and bloody. To the north, Iranian-backed Hezbollah – Israel’s arch enemy – is highly active in Lebanon, which is also beginning to suffer the effects of the Syrian civil war to the east as refugees flee across the border taking with them the Sunni-Shi’ite inter-Islamic feuding that is at the root of so much of the conflict across the Islamic world we are witnessing. Only Jordan among Israel’s direct neighbours remains relatively calm at present, but not for long I forecast.

What interests me even more about the reporting in both Israeli papers is an implied insight into the  on-going deep rift that remains between the present American and Israeli administrations as was accidentally leaked to the world’s media in what they thought was a private conversation between former French President Sarkozy and President Obama.  While Col Wilkerson is not an official spokesman for the Obama Administration, it is clear from the reporting in the Israeli media that they view his comments as indicative of the gulf that now exists between Israel and its biggest- some would say only – global sponsor.

The US and Israel are already at odds over how to handle the potentially vastly greater theat to world peace posed by Iranian nuclear ambitions.  Israeli Premier, Benjamin Netanyahu has already made it clear that his Government is prepared to make a preemptive strike on Iran before Iran has the capabilities to strike Israel, an event that would by default drag America into the conflict as Israel’s chief ally.  I believe that what we are seeing taking place in Syria now, including this strange issue of chemical weapons will have far reaching effects on the looming Iranian stand-off.    Israel is being drawn ever into the Syrian conflict.   There have already been reports a few months back of Israeli airstrikes into Lebanon on military convoys from Syria allegedly supplying Hezbollah with weaponry.  Within the last day or so Israel has openly admitted that it has now made similar airstrikes into Syria itself from Lebanon to target Hezbollah-bound military convoys. As such, this is not an earth-shattering event in the Syrian saga. Turkey has done similar along Syria’s northern border when it too felt threatened.   Key to the current episode is how President Obama handles the situation.    His words that he will commit America to (long-overdue some would say) intervention should chemical weapons be used are increasingly viewed as shallow and even lacking substance in Jerusalem.   Israel has remained as patient as it has to be in the always critical glare of world opinion but ever vigilant of events on its very borders and has now seen fit to intervene more than once.  The danger is that Israel will get dragged in further, which President Assad would no doubt welcome so that an Arab world, hitherto critical of him, would forget their differences in temporarily uniting against the Jewish state.

President Obama is challenged with having to make clear to the world (as it is not just the Israeli press that is asking but even our own British media too), whether he is a man who will stand by his word and what exactly his word means. There is much speculation and criticism in his own media that his Administration is now attempting to blur what that red line he spoke about actually meant.  If he fails to act decisively now, when it comes to dealing with Iran the Israelis will be even less inclined to wait upon faltering and flaky US resolve but to take the initiative whatever the consequences.

I awoke this morning to the news (still breaking as I write) that overnight Israel’s Air Force has attacked targets they say were military research centers in the Syrian capital, Damascus and so in a trice the stakes in this war are raised even higher.  We await the fall-out but I am reminded again of things I’ve researched on concerning the city of Damascus itself, which has a very dark, ancient and still unfulfilled Biblical prophecy over it that I’ve been pondering about blogging on for some time…


Why are Muslims blowing each other up in Iraq?

Building the last empire

Never again Masada


Building the Last Empire

caliphateWhat’s going on in northern Africa? Why did it concern France so much that they very quickly deployed combative military in the deserts of Mali?  How is what’s going on in Mali and Nigeria connected to events on the borders of India? The answer lies in one word: Caliphate (cal-ee-fet)

A caliphate is an Arabic word meaning empire. It is governed by a caliph (cal-eef) – a ruler.  The ruler is both a political and religious figure.  Historically, caliphate was a name given to successive Islamic empires that spread out from Arabia where Islam was born, through the Middle East and into central and south-eastern Asia and west into the European Balkans, though northern Africa and into Spain and Portugal. Conceptually, caliphate is the trans-border unification of the entire Muslim world (or Ummah) into one empire under Shariah Law to which the radical elements of modern-day Islam aspires.  It was partly the resistance of the Frankish Empire in France that halted the advance of Islam into mainland Europe.


Not since the 1920′s has Islam been concerned with re-igniting the aspiration to restore the global caliphate and today to the vast majority of Muslims it is synonymous with the glories of Islam past.  Yet a future restoration of a global Caliphate that will appear in what the Quran teaches will be the End Times remains central in Islamic thought and teaching:

Prophethood will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain, then Allah will raise it up wherever he wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood remaining with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, He will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Afterwards, there will be a reign of violently oppressive rule and it will remain with you for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, there will be a reign of tyrannical rule and it will remain for as long as Allah wills it to remain. Then, Allah will raise it up whenever He wills to raise it up. Then, there will be a Caliphate that follows the guidance of Prophethood.

— As-Silsilah As-Sahihah, vol. 1, no. 5

I believe that we are seeing going on in countries ranging from north and west Africa to the western borders of India is the prelude to the building of the Islamic End Times Caliphate. None of the events going on across the Muslim world come as any surprise to me. Both the main branches of Islam – the Sunni and the Shia – are actively engaged in its creation and our news reports are increasingly filled with the tensions and outright violent hostility between secularists and Islamists in predominantly Muslim nations. Even in Tunisia, the birthplace of the ‘Arab Spring‘ only in recent weeks was the leader of the secularist opposition to the Islamist Government murdered. Similar struggles are taking place at this time of writing in Libya, Egypt and Syria.

islamThe Quran teaches Muslims to convert the world to Islam by either persuasion or if that fails then by force.  Both of these ideologies are at work today in a resurgent, confident radical Islam.  One manifestation of the persuasive approach is Wahhabism –  through teaching in Mosques, schools and Universities even here in the UK. Radical groups such as Al-Quaeda and Boko Haram have chosen the forceful way.  Common in the belief and practices of radical Muslims who strive to restore the Caliphate under Sharia Law is Jihad. Jihad means ‘to struggle’.  In Islam it’s interpreted in two ways: the greater Jihad  is a spiritual struggle against the sinful self and the lesser Jihad against the enemies of Islam – the Infidel or faithless ones (anyone non-Muslim). Movements such as Al-Quaeda focus on the forceful way.

The two branches of Islam are divided as to who will rule the caliphate and this in part explains much about what we hear of Muslim-on-Muslim strife such as the ongoing suicide bombings in Iraq despite the fact there are no Western military there in any great number now. The two houses of Islam have been in an undeclared war over control of the hearts and minds of the Ummah (Muslim world) for centuries as I have written about before (here). The Sunnis believe that once this caliphate is created, it’s Caliph, or spiritual/political leader will be elected by the Ummah.  The Shia believe that this End Times role can only be fulfilled by a direct descendant from Mohammed. They believe this person will emerge from among Shia Islam based primarily in Iran and Iraq.    It would take a whole separate post for me to blog on what I have learned about President Ahmadinajab of Iran and his firm belief that he has a personal role to play in ushering in the End Times. It is something I will post on soon.

mosque_interior_083_jpgThere are a couple of thorns in the side of the Islamist dream of restoring the Caliphate around the Mediterranean at least. One is Spain and Portugal. Both became part of the Islam’s caliphate at its zenith. In Islamic thinking, once a territory has been claimed for Islam, it remains forever an Islamic territory and therefore part of the global Caliphate. We should expect to see the rise of fundamentalist Islam in these nations. The Spanish in particular have already been served notice that their infidelity to Islam will not be tolerated in the Madrid bombings of 2004.


As I write, Egypt and Syria are in turmoil. I also predict the destabilisation of Jordan soon. In Syria what started as a civil uprising against n unpopular autocrat has been hijacked by practitioners of Jihad who want to add  fundamentalist Islamic Syria to the rising Caliphate.  When they succeed, as I believe they will, they will start to turn their focus on Israel.  Egypt, too, is still going through the throws of revolution but the secularists, Christians and Islamists who were once brothers in arms against President Mubarak are now at each others’ throats in the struggle for power. More worrying for me is the man the Egyptians elected to rule them; Mohamed Morsi.  Only in January this year did Western media pick up on his view of Israel. The Israelis and others such as I who watch the Middle East closely, knew of these comments long before.  The New York Times reported as follows:

His scurrilous comments from nearly three years ago about Zionists and Jews, which just came to light, have raised serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed. As reported by David Kirkpatrick in The Times, Mr. Morsi is shown in a video from 2010 delivering a speech in which he urges Egyptians to “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred” for Jews and Zionists. In a television interview months later, he described Zionists as “these bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”

Mohammed Morsi

That neatly brings me to the other thorn in the side of the rising Caliphate…Israel. The creation of any Islamic End Time Caliphate will inevitably be faced by the existence of the Jewish (Infidel) state breaking the chain through the hoped for unified caliphate across the Muslim believing nations that rim the Mediterranean Sea and into Asia. The entire world is heading for an almighty collision when Islamic fundamental ideology and the Jewish state meet each other head on.   Anyone who knows me well enough, knows my interest in and many travels to Israel.  I am a friend of Israel, though not an uncritical one. This friendship does not in any way cause me to be anti-Islamic but it does cause me to watch closely at what is going on concerning that region. I am also a Christian and in the extreme views of the radical Islamists, I fall into the category of the Infidel along with the Jews that must be subjugated or wiped out.  It was among my travels to Israel that I first heard the saying: “First we kill the Saturday people, then the Sunday people”. It is a belief held among many radical Islamists that basically means – first we will kill the people who worship on a Saturday (the Jews) and then those who worship on a Sunday (Christians).  Muslims worship on a Friday.  This short video explains it better than I can from people experiencing this already.

The desire to build the End Times Caliphate among radical Islam is not confined to the nations that were once part of the original empires of Islam but to the whole world. That includes countries such as the UK  where Wahhabism is highly active and where Jihad has also reared its ugly head as on 7/7 in London.  I was just at Euston Station just after the 4th bomb detonated that day.  Though it is barely reported in the national news, Christians are perishing across the world at the hands of Islamic extremists. In Egypt and Nigeria, churches are being bombed with worshipers in them. I am party to these stories and much, much more because I work in Christian media.  Just today, a friend of mine posted up on Facebook an alarming message he’s got wind of posted by Islamist radicals concerning the safety of Christians in Tanzania.  The guy works for a charity that is working to be a voice for Christians being violently persecuted across the world.  I have known this guy some 16 years and can personally vouch for his sanity and lack of any hysterical tendencies.  I’ve not known him to post such a message before but here’s what he said:

aaThis is very sinister and worrying
TANZANIA: “THE COMING EASTER WILL BE ONE OF DISASTER” WARNS “ISLAMIST” EXTREMIST GROUPS. Geita (Agenzia Fides) – “We thank our young men, trained in Somalia, for killing an infidel. Many more will die. We will burn homes and churches. We have not finished: at Easter, be prepared for disaster”; Signed “Muslim Renewal”. Fides was told about a terrifying SMS in Tanzania, received by local bishops and priests , in which Islamist extremists claim responsibility for the murder of the Catholic priest Fr. Evarist Mushi, aged 55 , killed in front of the Catholic cathedral early on Sunday 17 February. 

The Catholic Church in Tanzania is concerned and anxious. Reaction has come also from national leaders: Tanzania’s Prime Minister called an immediate meeting with leading members of the Christian and Muslim communities, but the outcome was not positive. Certain Muslim leaders called for the release from prison of the suspected assassins of a local Protestant pastor, Mathew Kachira, killed on 10 February. Local Catholic Church sources told Fides that clearly, behind these attacks and murders lies Islamist extremism spreading across the country. 

Fides sources also say that some responsibility falls on Tanzania’s president, Mr Jakaya Kikwete, because during the electoral campaign he promised the Muslim population he would change the Constitution and introduce measures in keeping with Islamic Sharia Law. Today the majority of Tanzanians oppose the plan, but Islamist extremist groups, in reaction, have started a campaign of terror. 

The local Catholic Bishop of Geita, Bishop Damiani Denis Dallu, told Fides: “All we desire is peace and unity and love to reign among the citizens of Tanzania, irrespective of religious beliefs”. This is also the desire of other Christian leaders, heads of traditional religions and moderate Muslim leaders. The latter, however, the Bishop told Fides “are afraid because they too are targeted by Islamic extremists”


[This post is not intended in any way to be anti-Islamic. It s my personal take and interpretation of the world events I see unfolding around me. My views are personal and do not reflect those of my employers.]

The legacy of Anders Breivik lives on

I was browsing around YouTube today looking at video coverage of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.   I was particularly looking for footage of the Irish team parading into the stadium.  Don’t ask me why. I’m sad like that.    Anyway, I found a clip and believe it or not it was of all the teams that began with the letter ‘I’ marching in. How weird is that?

There they all were…Iceland….India….Indonesia…Iran…Iraq…Ireland…………..Italy.  Huh?   Am I missing something?  This video clip certainly was.  There is one more country listed under ‘I’ that I remember myself seeing in the parade: Israel.   I played the video back to check.  Sure enough, between Ireland and Italy whoever posted the video up had cut out the Israeli team.  Why?   So I started to investigate.

Over the footage I could hear what sounded like a Nordic language TV commentary being spoken.  I went onto the YouTube channel of the person who had posted up the video and discovered he was a Norwegian of Indonesian origin.  Whether an immigrant to Norway or born and bred there was unclear.  But is was clear from his profile that he lives in Norway.  Well, that would explain why he would have a clip of only the countries beginning with ‘I’.  Interestingly he has no clip of the Norwegian team.  It is also clear that he is a Muslim.  Not surprising seeing as Indonesia is the world’s most populous Islamic nation.

I felt a sense of rage on my discovery of this video and immediately went to post him a few choice thoughts of my own…only I need a Gmail account first and I hate Gmail. The next best thing I can do is write this blog and somehow post him the link. Why my outrage?  Well anyone following this blog will know that I have an interest in Israel and the Jewish people.  But is was not so much because of yet more evidence I found that would indicate obsessive hatred of Israel seems to be a cornerstone of Islam as a faith…but because I discovered this happening in Norway, the land of Anders Behring Breivik.  He who slaughtered nearly a hundred of his fellow countrymen in July 2011 – barely a year ago - due to his racial, cultural and religious hatred.   Yet here we have in the wake of that tragic event evidence of deep-seated hatred toward others no different from that Breivik manifested in my oppinion.

How widespread the views of this one person are held within his community can only be guessed at and every country has its extremists and radicals.  My hope and belief is that it is not that prevalent in a country as tolerant and free as Norway.  But it needs to be kept a watch on otherwise all it will do is give rise to more Breiviks from whichever extremity.

Rgent Street, London

London on the eve. There’s something in the air tonight…

As I write, the BBC News Channel is buzzing with live coverage of the Olympic Torch Relay as it has at last entered central London heading down Regent Street beneath the flags of all nations on its way to Buckingham Palace.  I was right there barely 2 hours ago as they were delivering the barricades under clear blue skies and scorching heat. The flame that was lit months ago in Olympia, southern Greece is at last nearing its final destination.

I was at a meeting with clients on Oxford Street and had I waited just an hour after my meeting I would have been part of the quite amazing scenes currently playing out on the TV.  It would have been my second encounter with the Torch in as many days. 

Yesterday, I took a day off work…to watch a man carry a glorified golden candle through my home town of Harrow on the north-western edge of this great city.   Had I waited until the flame got to Regent Street to attempt to see it, I guess I would not have seen much being a mere 5ft 5inches tall.  Yesterday on my home soil, I got within striking distance of the flame with an unfettered view.  As I came away from the short experience my first reaction…and that of many people around me I could hear…was that I was involved now. I’m part of the greatest show on Earth.    I have lived in Harrow nearly all my life. I cannot remember ever seeing so many fellow inhabitants flock to the route of the Torch as it passed through from all races, creeds and colours – seriously I have not.  I was completely dumbfounded by how many people turned out on a Wednesday morning to take those photos that have all now winged their way to who knows how many destinations via email and social media.  I was so proud at the same time.  I’m not a fan of where I live precisely because the UK’s foolish embrace of multiculturalism is, for me, directly responsible for the breakdown of a cohesive society. Yet, yesterday I was very moved to see so many turn out from all across the borough to celebrate a common cause and wave our national flag.

I guess we in London have watched the Torch Relay at a bemused distance since it arrived in our south-westerly most county of Cornwall from Greece and started its mammoth journey nearly 70 days ago. During that time, 8,000 Torch Bearers will have carried the flame to within an hour’s reach of 95% of the people of these isles. It’s estimated at this point of writing that over 12 million have turned out to see it.  This from a haughty island people struggling through an ailing economy with in-built British reserve.

I was in the Northern Irish capital Belfast a couple of months back just a couple of days before the Torch Relay was to arrive there.  Belfast City hall was decked in giant Olympic rings and there was a giant TV in its grounds following live the progress of the relay.  There was no sense then that the locals were remotely bothered by an event focussed on London across the Irish Sea many miles away. Yet when the people of Wales handed the Torch over to this island of Ireland thousands turned out to greet the relay in both Belfast and the Irish capital Dublin days after I was there. I watched the arrival of the Torch in Belfast on the news in bemusement at why people who lived so far from where the action will be would bother to turn out in such great numbers to see the flame.

This has been a recurring theme in all the reports I have seen of the relay all the way  through. The people of Cornwall first set the pace. Small towns and communities at the periphery of the UK turned out in force to greet the relay, something that was to be repeated in towns, villages and cities across the length and breadth of Great Britain ever after. Now the embrace of the Cornish people has magnified like ripples on water to the crescendo that is playing out on my TV screen with unprecedented scenes in London right now.  The last time I saw our streets filled like this was for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales…only now for a much happier reason.

There is something in the air in London tonight. Something I can’t explain. It’s all the more baffling that London of all cities should feel this way. You see as far as we are concerned half the world already lives here. 300+ languages are spoken in London and just this month we were told that Europe’s largest city has now topped 8.1 million inhabitants. I travel the Tube (Subway) each day and listen to the recorded messages warning us locals that a million more people are expected to use our already crowded transport system every day.   If anyone is going to be nonplussed by the Olympics and the global eye on our city it will we who live in it.   Yet here we are with the flame heading into the heart of the metropolis and these unprecedented scenes on our streets no doubt attracting many tourists but also vastly more locals.

When I walked down Oxford Street to catch the Tube home before the melee currently being beamed around the world, I heard so many languages, saw people wearing t-shirts representing dozens of nations I realised that the world is here in greater numbers now and from tomorrow night it will be focussing its gaze on our nation and its capital city. 

I must admit that I have been in dread of what concoction we would spill out at the Opening Ceremony the greatest televised show on the planet by sheer audience numbers.  If you remember back to the stunning show Beijing put on in 2008, we always knew we had a mountain to climb whatever we did.  My fears are greatly relieved now that I have heard from 4 friends who have witnessed one of the two dress rehearsals of the gig who have all reported more than positively on what they saw yet are still sworn to secrecy and can’t say or share their photos. I came home tonight having experienced a very palpable buzz taking place in our city this evening.  In this most cosmopolitan of cities and a seat of global influence….even here there is a growing sense among the people who live here that something big and special is taking place we’ve not really allowed ourselves to engage with until now, at least the majority of us.

As I’m writing, the flame has just arrived at Buckingham Palace. Wills, Kate and Harry are out there to greet.  I was thinking about how to wrap up this post and I remembered a comment a friend posted on my Facebook wall recently perplexed at why so many people in our once sane country were flocking to see a flame on a piece of metal.   I thought about this but really I already knew the answer because I have heard it expressed from so many people all through the Torch Relay.  When just ordinary folk from across the country have been interviewed and asked ‘why did you’…volunteer…nominate…turn up to see the Torch the most common answer I’ve heard has been “I just wanted to be a part of history”.  That’s the reason I’m engaged too.  I’m a History Graduate. The history I studied was all from records and museums and dried up dead stuff.  But if I learnt anything from that experience it was to try to recognise history while it is present and before it becomes the past. You cannot become a part of something when it is past, only when it is present. London is the first city to host the Games 3 times and that amid fierce competition in the modern age where there are mega cities that dwarf our own 8.1 million. I can’t see another city matching this. London beat New York, Moscow, Madrid and arch-rival Paris to win these Games. No mean feat.

I am excited about the Opening of the Games tomorrow night, I freely admit.  I haven’t been until only just these last few days and thanks to our sour, depressive, navel-gazing and sensationalist media I might never have been.  I work in media, but I’m glad and a little proud to say that I don’t think we have joined the ‘dissing’ herd.

I think we all know that once the Olympic euphoria has melted away, we are all going to wake up with a big hang-over. The anticipation of the Opening is at present injecting an anaesthetic into our media coverage of global events. Syria is now in all-out civil war. The Eurozone crisis takes steeper spirals into chaos, our own economy is plunging, wars in South Sudan, sectarian violence threatening to rip Nigeria apart, strengthening Chinese global ambitions….on and on.

My prayer (first) and hope (second) is for peace and safety over our city, our guests and all who live in it. May these Games pass by leaving us some inspiration and not despair. In the great scheme of things are the Games important? No, not at all.  Do they mean something? By the reactions of the people of the UK so far…evidently yes.   Whatever we feel about them, they are here and we have no power to change that. 

In the olden days during the WW2 and after, Brits used to pep each other up to get on with things with the line ‘best foot forward’. I’ve never been quite sure what that meant but I get the gist.

Best foot forward, guys….