Monday, May 30, 2011

An interesting letter in last week’s Mail by a Mister David Kendall of Prenton, (or should that be Preston?) the Wirral, about Elf and Safety and I am sure, I hope anyway, he wouldn’t mind my quoting him verbatim –

“I await with trepidation the Olympic torch arriving in this country as Health and Safety will clearly need to play a major part in this pageant. The route will have to be subjected to a risk assessment in case there are any steep hills, potholes or traffic issues. The torch bearers will have to take out insurance in case they should trip and burn themselves or any spectators. And all torch-bearers will have to be carefully vetted to ensure a fair mix of ethnic minorities, gays, lesbians, and trans-gendered people. We’ll be lucky if we get away without at least one claim for compensation for injury, hurt feelings, or other discrimination.”

A key assumption of modern politics is that we should be left alone to live as we like without being nagged, without fear of moral judgement. Freedom has become our supreme political virtue but we could do with a little bit of nudging says Alain de Boton in defence of the nanny state.

“It is not thought to be the government's task to promote a vision of how we should act towards one another or to send us to hear lectures about parenting, chivalry or politeness. Modern politics, on both left and right, is dominated by what we can call a libertarian ideology.

Sections of the public grow more or less apoplectic at the idea that governments might want to teach us anything. Even modest measures like trying to get people to eat less fatty food or drive less petrol-guzzling cars tends to provoke howls of protest that this is going simply too far.

It is a sign of this climate that the current government has almost given up all attempts to tell us anything. It seeks just to nudge us in extremely modest, quiet ways to donate our livers if we have a car crash or to file our tax returns on time. But that's about as far as it dares go.

All this concern with freedom can be traced back to thinkers like John Stuart Mill, who in his famous book, On Liberty of 1859, explained: "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant.

The foibles of citizens should be placed beyond comment or criticism, for fear of turning government into that most reviled and unpalatable kind of authority in libertarian eyes - the nanny state.

Compare this with how religions handle things. Religions have always had much more directive ambitions, advancing far-reaching ideas about how members of a community should behave towards one another.

Consider Judaism, for example. Certain passages in the Jewish legal code, or Mishnah, have close parallels in modern law. There are familiar-sounding statutes about not stealing, breaking contracts or exacting disproportionate revenge on enemies during war.

However, a great many other decrees extend their reach dramatically far beyond what a libertarian political ideology would judge to be appropriate. The code is obsessed with the details of how we should behave with our families, our colleagues, strangers and even animals.

It dictates that we must never sit down to eat a meal before we have fed our goats and our camels, that we should ask our parents for permission when agreeing to go on a journey of more than one night's duration, that we should invite any widows in our communities for dinner every spring time and that we should beat our olive trees only once during the harvest so as to leave any remaining fruit to the fatherless and to the poor.

Such recommendations are capped by injunctions on how often to have sex, with men told of their duty before God to make love to their wives quite regularly, according to a timetable that aligns frequency with the scale of their professional commitments. "For men of independent means, every day. For labourers, twice a week. For donkey drivers, once a week. For camel drivers, once in thirty days. For sailors, once every six months."

In the modern world, there is so much that we would like to do but never end up doing, there are so many ways of behaving that we subscribe to in our hearts but ignore in our day-to-day lives. And perhaps most significantly, there are so few people around us who dare to exhort us to act well.”

All well and good but it doesn’t exonerate the do gooders of the nanny state for poking their noses in where not wanted. Think how many Quangos could go for a start and the government could stop exhorting us to feed our goats and camels.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Many many years ago as we were then living in London’s East End, Chris and I discovered Wilton’s Music Hall. At that time it was wide open and virtually derelict so we went in and, derelict or not, the atmosphere was incredible. Fortunately there were enthusiasts who made sure it didn’t stay entirely derelict and it has evidently been the venue for some terrific productions and concerts. Now it is highly possible that all that will become forgotten history.

We have received the following e-mail and I must admit I am very surprised that the Lottery Fund has seen fit to turn down the request to help save an historic building such as Wilton’s Music Hall, the only one of its kind left. I would imagine the request was turned down by a snooty bunch of philistines to whom music hall is common, vulgar, and of little historic importance whereas it was a major feature in nineteenth and early twentieth century British entertainment. Every major music hall performer appeared at Wiltons at some time in their career and to lose this wonderful old building now would be an act of vandalism and a disaster. According to the BBC Music Magazine it is acoustically perfect for chamber, classical music, and song. I can only hope Frances and her crew can raise the necessary though it does seem an enormous mount to get in so short a time or maybe that the decision makers at the Lottery Fund have a change of mind – and heart.

‘We are writing with frustrating news to say that our application for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to save the building has been rejected thus putting the future of Wilton’s in serious jeopardy.

The overall project cost is just under £3.8 million and we were looking to secure £2.25 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards these costs and then undertake a Capital Appeal to raise the remaining funds. We are sadly now in the position of needing to raise the full £3.8 million, a task that will be extremely difficult in the current financial climate, but one that has to be done. If we do nothing, by autumn this year we would be closed down. We won’t let this happen.

We remain absolutely confident that with the overwhelming public support we have we can win the war to safeguard the future of this vibrant, historic and important building. We are asking everyone to come forward now and donate in whatever way they can, large and small.

We are all taking a deep breath today and gathering our fight back as we will save Wilton’s!’

I think you might like to visit Wilton’s site at Fascinating.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Believe it or not, Mister Ripley, this is Blog 300 of the current series. I say current series because there were Blogs that disappeared some time ago when my computer crashed and I don’t remember how many there were in that first lot; quite a few.

May 23 marked the beginning of Vamos Arts Week. How things have changed since, apart from one German, we were we were the first ex-pats to settle here just over fourteen years ago. Today there are hundreds of them and I have to say not all welcome. Monday evening saw the opening of an art and crafts exhibition and the week continues with a number of events: music, dance, shadow puppets, drama, poetry, film. Chris and Douglas are performing a programme they have called ‘Cole Porter and Friends,’ and judging by the rehearsing that’s been going on it should be a whale of a success. There have been other changes of course, not all for the better, such as when our favourite eating places close down because the patron and his wife grow too old to continue and the kids are not interested. This has happened not only here but in Chania and Athens and not just eating places. The baker we used to use in Athens for example disappeared one day and they made the best croissants in the world.

Athens evidently is becoming yet another crime ridden city, some of it centred around our area of Viktoria. We’ve noticed over the years more and more illegal immigrants congregating there, using the beautiful square for selling mostly pirated goods, and evidently break-ins have increased tenfold. Sad. A couple of years back there was an attempt to break into our flat but fortunately when restoring it we paid the equivalent of £1000 for a security door that withstood the attempt. It cost 50 euros to repair the damaged lock but cheap at the price. That door was the best insurance we ever bought.

There have been other changes of course. The recession has not been at all comfortable to put it mildly, for some downright disastrous, with many small businesses shutting down and unemployment rising, and Greece grows more and more expensive by the day. Our petrol is now the costliest in Europe and it takes almost a thousand euros to fill the central heating tank. But Crete is still a beautiful place to be.

There has also been a huge change in local government, individual village town halls giving way to a much wider responsibility covering the whole of the Apokoronos. A few months back we had elections, at which we were allowed to vote, and since then the winning party (who we voted for) have been beavering away forming new committees that now include ex-pats; so there is a committee for animal welfare, at last, and one for the environment, etcetera. It’s reform reform reform all the way. How long I wonder will the enthusiasm continue.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Evidently some of the chosen are walking around in total bewilderment and can’t understand why the great event didn’t take place, especially those who spent their life savings, in one case £86000, in spreading the message worldwide. Poor fools. As Barnum once said, there’s one born every minute, and he was absolutely right. Never mind those who believed implicitly in the old idiot’s prediction, what about this? A go-ahead atheist businessman in America provided a service for looking after the pets of those who were raptured and they happily paid him $139 per pet. Did it not pass through their brains that, if the prediction had been true and they had ascended with Jesus into heaven, the rest of us were doomed to immediate extinction and that would include the pets? The guy who took their money, as he laughed all the way to the bank, said “They’re going to be disappointed twice. Firstly when it doesn’t happen and secondly when they hear I don’t give refunds.” Now that is the true spirit of the entrepreneur.

And while on the subject of pets, I learn we shouldn’t call them that anymore. From now on in they should be called companions. Well of course they’re good friends and companions. I am the softest-hearted animal lover in the world. I can’t bear to see a scarab on his back, legs in the air, without stopping and turning him right side up and we have had cats and dog friends and companions for many years that have been given the best life we could possibly give them but the fact remains, call them what you will, they are still and always will be “pets.” I believe also we should no longer be known as owners but fortunately I’ve forgotten what we’re supposed to be and I have no intention of bothering with this sort of nonsense any further.

So what else has been happening in the Disunited Kingdom whilst semi-comatose on my sickbed? Well, our teacher friend Nick informs us that kids now have to be licensed before they can use a pen (ballpoint). Licensed! Why? Is Elf and Safety involved here? Is it feared the little darlings might poke themselves in the eye? They could damage themselves with a pencil, with chalk, with their thumb. Which brings me to the Essex headmistress; well liked, well experienced, well thought of, who has lost her job because she thought she was saving a child from the attentions of a possible paedophile. What did she actually do? The boy evidently refused point blank to leave the playground, a highly suspicious character hovering nearby, and, well heavens to Betsy, with the aid of an assistant, she actually laid hands on the boy to propel him unwillingly inside. Can you honestly believe this without your jaw hitting the ground? What would have happened if she had ignored the situation and the stranger really was a predator who made off with the boy? I hope she not only gets her job back but sues for millions.

And last but not least for this time, just as absurd, a station master…But no, I’ll leave this one for next time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Glyn, like Kilroy, is back. No, wait a moment, Kilroy was past tense and evidently Glyn nearly was as well. Chris and Douglas were so sure I was about to knock on the pearly gates to demand an audition that in a matter of a couple of days they had the tafos built, something we’ve been meaning to do for ages but never had the readies. Let me explain. Our town of Vamos, as in the surrounding villages, has a small cemetery with really no way of expansion. Also it is situated over volcanic rock so one is not buried six feet under, holes dug by jack hammers, but safely ensconced in a concrete box on the surface; later possibly covered in marble and inscriptions. I’ve told the guys what I want mine to be. I have pinched it from a book I read about a family of nineteenth century strolling players and, when the head of the family died, his epitaph read “The play is over – Tired he sleeps” which, as a luvvie, I thought really apt and beautiful. We managed to buy a plot in the cemetery (no 27, my birth date) some years ago from a family who had two and were prepared to sell one and, as old age advanced, the cry went up every now and again, “We must get that tafos built.” I suppose the nearest translation to tafos would be sarcophagus but that does sound rather grand. Well, now it is done and there is room for three. Plots are all owned by families and used for generations and to make room for newcomers (or should that be latecomers or late arrivals?) your bones are disinterred, washed and placed in the charnel house, ready for resurrection I suppose, though how they will ever come together again I really don’t know because, when I took a peek into the charnel house, they were just collected in an untidy pile.

The opening line of this Blog was going to be “Jesus doesn’t want me for a sunbeam – not yet anyway.” Actually I would make a pretty lousy crotchety old sunbeam and my opening line was spoilt by a senile 89 year old fundamentalist by the name of Harold Camping who predicted Jesus would return to earth yesterday and that would be the end of the world. Well, Jesus didn’t return and we’re all still here. I couldn’t help wondering where he would materialise and in what time zone. I somehow don’t think he would choose the Middle East again as this time he would have the Muslims to deal with and that, as they say, is a whole other kettle of fish. Anyway, true believers were supposed to be swept up to heaven “raptured” was the word the old fool used. He sent out his message worldwide in broadcasts and on billboards and what is truly frightening is the number of people who believed this religious nonsense. His prediction of course was all based on Biblical texts

"We learn from the Bible that Holy God plans to rescue about 200 million people," says a text on the website of Mr Camping's network, Family Radio Worldwide.

"On the first day of the Day of Judgment (May 21, 2011) they will be caught up (raptured) into Heaven because God had great mercy for them."

Well, let’s see when the next prediction will be. At 87 I doubt somehow it will come from Mister Camping; after all he has failed twice.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Unfortunately due to a bout of illness there will be no Blogs for while; hopefully only a short while. At the moment I just don’t have the energy and I am supposed to be on oxygen twenty hours a day which doesn’t really leave much time for anything else.

For those who have enjoyed them hopefully I will be back soon. Glyn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We’re having a cull of books. Like the expanding population over the years they have been accumulating at the rate of knots and there is simply no space anymore. For months now the piano lid and top and other available surfaces have been piled high with books that haven’t been able to find a home in the shelves so “No more books!” is a cry from Douglas’s heart. Unfortunately books come along that simply demand to be read and so the pile grows. Thinking of the previous Blog and Cambodia reminded me of Ronald Firbank’s novel “Prancing Nigger.” Written a long time before Political Correctness of course in which Mrs Amadou Mouth, Mammee is desirous of moving to the city of Cuna Cuna where she could “have a house wid a flush toilet.” That too was a cry from the heart. Later when she realises her dream, Mr Amadou Mouth known as Prancing Nigger is heard to moan “Sho she play wid dat thing like it’s a toy.” Interestingly, interesting for me anyway, my stubby fingers every now and again keep hitting the wrong key and I accidentally brought up Research on the word Cuna; and this is what it says – Cuna (noun) a member of a native Central American people of the Isthmus of Panama and northwest Columbia. Cunan language. The Chibchan language of the Cuna people. Chibchan – I love that. What a wonderful word. You feel it could be set to music.

Way back in the 1950’s Prancing Nigger was my second attempt at writing the book and lyrics for a full scale musical but I’m afraid it never stood a chance. With Political Correctness it couldn’t go on now, giving twos up as it does to various taboos. Back then it was because I couldn’t get the rights. They were held by a fiery old colonel out East and Sandy Wilson had got there before me with “The Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli” and evidently the colonel didn’t think much to it so no more rights for adaptations.

I don’t know why Wilson chose that particular book because he had to take from others to flesh it out whereas Prancing Nigger is complete in itself. Maybe he chose it because it is grand camp –description of a choirboy – “with a mouth of cherry cream never far away.” The other problem at the time was – no composer. Music was never written but I still get a kick rereading it.

Can you imagine what today’s reaction would be if Firbank wrote that book now? Cardinal Pirelli that is, who is led a merry dance around the cathedral by the cherub with a mouth of cherry cream who escapes through a side door leaving the Cardinal to expire behind the high altar. Whatever His Holiness may say, the seduction of choirboys has been going on for centuries only in earlier times it was never thought to obtain compensation.

Well, I am quite sure “The Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli” would never see the light of day and if it did it would be immediately banned by the Vatican, American schools and possibly other organisations as well. It would be published in Paris and delivered from under the counter in a plain wrapping.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I am sure most people believe the world is going to end with Armageddon or in a raging fireball, an explosion or series of explosions that will obliterate everything. I, on the other hand, have sometimes thought the ending would come with everyone drowning in a universal cesspit, a tsunami of shit. A small preview is available.

A man in Sleng, a rural village in Cambodia has just won a prize for producing the most excrement! Amid much laughter, all eyes turn to the middle-aged farmer sitting cross-legged in front of the village hall. Not cracking a smile, he does a little victory dance without getting to his feet. "I'm not ashamed," he says. But his face suggests otherwise. This is precisely the impact that the sanitation marketing team from International Development Enterprises (IDE) were hoping they would have. Cambodians' toilet habits are causing serious problems - and gently suggesting changes has not worked. Most of this small south-east Asian country's people live in rural areas - and only one in five of them have access to a toilet. In fact, people are twice as likely to have a mobile phone. The consequences are predictable. Poor sanitation causes illnesses that kill more than ten thousand Cambodians every year - most of them young children. The economic costs are high as well. Days off sick and time searching for somewhere to go to the toilet reduce earnings and productivity - and families spend hard-earned income on healthcare which is frequently of dubious quality.

Well-meaning development organizations have tried giving toilets away. They frequently come back a few months later to find them being used as storage rooms or animal shelters, with the family defecating in the open as before.

In a presentation in Sleng, half stand-up comedy, half sanitation dialogue, the villagers are told they’re surrounded with their own excrement, told in no uncertain terms that they are living among their own filth, more than a hundred tonnes a year. “It’s like a mountain,” the presenter said. “Imagine if it rained and that mountain fell into the river. You'd be washing and bathing in your own excrement.” Before the presentation, only two of more than 40 houses in Sleng had a toilet. But in the the end there was a rush to buy one for $30 a piece, easily installed and ready for immediate use. The overall idea is to move away from the traditional model of aid - and towards a solution which brings both economic and health benefits. IDE were hoping that ten thousand easy latrines would be sold within 18 months. They passed that target with several months to spare - suggesting that it may indeed be possible to reposition the toilet as a status symbol to match the mobile phone and motorbike.

As well as the benefits to entrepreneurs, it reasons that if people can see a business opportunity in selling low-cost toilets, they should be able to spread sanitation far more efficiently than aid organisations ever could. With this approach showing such promise in Cambodia, other countries are already showing an interest.

Shame marketing may soon become a global phenomenon.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sir Richard Attenborough has issued a dire warning. In his opinion, unless something can be done to stop the expansion (Expansion? Explosion rather) of the population, it is thirty years only before the world runs out of resources, mainly food and water.

He is only endorsing what we already know but which I am sure a great many people simply refuse to believe or just keep their eyes shut. If the population cannot be controlled (has the Chinese one child policy worked?) then an urgent change to food production is needed in order to feed future generations. A UK government-commissioned study into food security has called for urgent action to avert global hunger. “The Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures” says the current system is unsustainable and will fail to end hunger unless radically redesigned. Already the price of food has rocketed, sugar, wheat, etc., causing riots in various parts of the world. Fears have been confirmed in the culmination of a two-year study involving 400 experts from 35 countries.

According to the government's chief scientific adviser, Professor Sir John Beddington, the study provides compelling evidence for governments to act now. "We know in the next 20 years the world population will increase to something like 8.3 billion people," Beddington told BBC News. “We know that urbanization is going to be a driver and that something of the order of 65-70% of the world's population will be living in cities at that time. We know that the world is getting more prosperous and that the demand for basic commodities - food, water and energy - will be rising as that prosperity increases, increasing at the same time as the population." He warned: "We have 20 years to arguably deliver something of the order of 40% more food; 30% more available fresh water and of the order of 50% more energy. We can't wait 20 years or 10 years indeed - this is really urgent. 925 million people suffer hunger and perhaps a further billion lack micronutrients. The task is difficult because the food system is working for the majority of people but those at risk of hunger have least influence on decision-making." Professor Beddington also said he viewed the billion people who overeat and are therefore obese as another symptom of the failure of the food production system to deliver good health and well-being to the world's growing population. Facing reality. Ending hunger is one of the greatest challenges to be considered. The report calls for protection of the poorest from sharp price increases through government intervention and greater liberalisation of the trade in food in order to offset market volatility. It is noted that China has invested heavily in agriculture and is consequently one of the few countries to have met the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) of halving hunger. The report also calls for new measures to hold governments and food producers to account. This would involve developing objective measures on how well they are doing to reduce hunger, combat climate change and environmental degradation and boosting food production.

With the population explosion is it really a problem that can be solved? 8.3 billion people? Somehow I doubt it. Maybe now’s the time scientists should concentrate all their energies on that hoary old sci-fi stand-b y – emigration to a distant planet.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We need to get a couple of sheep to bring the jungle which was our garden, and it’s a large garden, under control. It’s either sheep (we’re told we have to have at least two) or an Albanian. Maybe we could hire or borrow a couple from one of the local shepherds. Having gone into the why’s and wherefores though it would appear the Albanian has won. In the long run he will turn out to be cheaper than the sheep! Talking of sheep, not being well I missed out this Easter on the festivities with our neighbours. Didn’t in fact leave the house and was rather surprised to learn this year it was too cold for al fresco. The weather has been very strange. Torrential rain once more, hail, thunder storms and still chilly as we move into May.

Courtesy of the letter pages in The Athens News I’ve been having a little ding-dong with a vegetarian gentleman on the mainland. I don’t now why I bothered to start it. If I remember it was because veggies are constantly telling us all about the superiority both health and morality-wise of their diet but carnivores never seem to answer back. Well, I got what I asked for. His response to my first letter wasn’t exactly vitriolic but his second one certainly was. The first statement this time though was so ridiculously illogical that, after a delicious chicken dinner, I have decided to call it a day. Nuff said. I would think the readers of The Athens News would get very bored with it anyway. Did you know there are some veggies who won’t even take honey? There is weird as the Welsh might say.

Talking of letters The Daily Mail, that most right wing of right wing conservative newspapers has published a letter I never ever thought could possibly appear in its illustrious if somewhat biased pages, and this in their wedding souvenir special in which readers are informed the paper has bought all the horseshoes used in the wedding parade and they can apply for one. I tell you, it gets more and more daft. Actually forget the illustrious bit; the pages get cheesier each day. The letter could have appeared in The Guardian in which all bias tends towards the left.

I don’t know what the copyright laws are regarding newspaper articles etc., but as my copyright is continually being broken without compensation I’ll take a chance on it. After all they wouldn’t get much if they decided to sue. It would be more bother than it’s worth. After a leader which states “A day to celebrate a very modern couple” the letter is as follows:


I wonder how many people, like me, had a sinking feeling when Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement. Let us get this out of the way first. Catherine Middleton is a pretty, well educated and personable young woman who would make a good wife to someone – just not to a future king of England.

This is nothing whatever to do with snobbery. It is to do with the institution of monarchy which is, and always has been, based on bloodline and DNA.

The Plantagenet, Tudor and Stuart bloodlines of our royals are mixed with Germanic families of the highest rank – brought in through George l and Prince Albert. King George the sixth’s marriage to the Queen Mother introduced Scottish ancestors, while Princess Diana brought the blood of her ancestor Charles ll back into the Royal Family. Sneer if you will but this is what the monarchy is all about. Coal miners and butchers all follow admirable callings but as King Charles l said “a subject and a sovereign are clean different things.”

Having the Middleton DNA of humble miners and domestic servants brought into the royal line is preposterous for you cannot breed thoroughbreds by introducing carthorses. Left-wingers may foam at the mouth but if you want a monarchy to survive and be respected you must follow the rules.

On the other hand in the late sixteen hundreds when a woman’s place in the world was simply to marry, hopefully bringing with her a large dowry and breeding as many kids in as short a time as possible as most of them would die off, a man by the name of Gerrard Winstanley wrote this – “Every man and woman shall have the free liberty to marry whom they love, if they can obtain the love and liking of whom they would marry, and neither birth nor portion should hinder the match.”

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two gay guys are turned away from a hotel because the husband and wife proprietors are Christians and cannot accept homosexuality. The men go to court and win their case. Now two girls have been given the same treatment, this time in Brighton. The hotelier said if he were anti-gay he wouldn’t have set up shop in Brighton, known as the gay capital of England. The girls’ version of events as they were ejected was the manager saying, ‘Boy and girl, yes. Two boys, no. Two girls no.’ The reason he has given for turning them away is that they were behaving in an unruly fashion, very badly in fact, and it was most certainly not because they were gay. Who to believe? Take your pick. Now two guys seen kissing were ejected from a pub in London. What has got into these people that they can behave in so stupid a fashion? Do they think homophobia has been eradicated because of a few laws and a bit more general acceptance? Men seen kissing anywhere other than in Great Britain or America (except somewhere like San Francisco obviously) wouldn’t raise a single eyebrow but why feel you can behave like this when and where you surely must know it is going to cause some embarrassment, resentment. Apart from anything else it is sheer bad manners.

There are still countries, mainly Muslim I suppose, where homosexuality is illegal and can be severely punished. The government in Malaya has come up with the most wonderful idea – any of fifty young boys deemed to be ‘effeminate’ will go to a boot camp and be taught what it is to be a man. This does not take into account the fifty young boys who are gay and as butch as all get-out. Can you honestly imagine anything quite so stupid? At the least it might be an improvement on the old-fashioned idea that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured by horrible aversion therapy or EST and was only given up as a bad job and a waste of time when the powers that be came to their senses and the conclusion that what they were doing was degrading, painful, and totally useless.

A last minute donation from the National Heritage Memorial Fund has saved for the nation the papers of the computing genius Alan Turing. Alan Turing is credited with a key role in breaking German wartime codes. He was one of the founding fathers of modern computing (note that) and a key figure in breaking the German Enigma code. Famous for his work at Bletchley Park during World War II, he was central in the creation of ‘the Bombe machine’ which cracked messages enciphered using the German Enigma code and viewed by many as the progenitor of the modern computer.

He committed suicide in 1954 at the age of 41, two years after being prosecuted for having a sexual relationship with a man and no longer able to take the ‘medical’ treatment he was being forced to undergo. In 2009 thousands of people signed a Downing Street petition calling for a posthumous government apology to Turing. The then prime minister Gordon Brown responded by saying he was sorry for the "appalling" way Turing was treated for being gay.

Maybe if he had been sent to a boot camp as a young boy he would have grown up different and the world would have been poorer without his genius. Next time you play computer games, with your Ipod or open your laptop, think of Alan Turing.