Passchendaele The 70th anniversary of the battle resulted in a number of TV programmes recalling the appalling slaughter and the hellish conditions. Every time stories of the first war appear it just makes me angry to think about it. The fact that the war was allowed to happen at all is shameful. The rivalry between the Royal cousins seems to have been the real cause, in particular the jealousy of Kaiser Willhelm. How could the ambitions of one man be allowed to lead to so much carnage? What were the politicians of the day thinking? How could the generals commit so many men to hopeless attacks that they had learned early on in the war would only lead to massacres on an unprecedented scale? At Passchendaele, when the rains came and the battle area turned into a sea of mud that men could hardly move through the generals pursued their original plan to attack. How could they do that? Why couldn’t they stop and wait for better conditions? Some historians will say that the way in which the war was conducted was because the generals had no choice, what else could they have done, they will say. What they could have done is let the front line stay where it was until some other solution was found. They could have engaged the scientists and engineers at home more closely with the armed forces and sought a solution with their help. They could have concentrated effort on building a much superior air force, they could have pursued the development of the tank until it was more reliable and better able to do the job and waited until they were produced in large numbers. They could have put more emphasis on the blockade of Germany that did eventually play a major role in Germany’s defeat, and waited for that to take greater effect. In truth the tank did play a part in winning the war, but there weren’t enough of them and they were not good enough for it to be decisive. In the end we did have a superior air force and the naval blockade had seriously impaired Germany’s ability to wage war. Why couldn’t the generals have waited rather than sending walls of men against well entrenched machine guns? Was it no more than their reputation that bothered them? It just makes me angry to think about it How cowardly it was of our King George not to give asylum to Tsar Nicholas and his family when they asked, he had their blood on his hands. Another piece of history that makes me angry. Those cousins made a right mess of Europe. And yet still the sycophantic royal followers came out to cheer them.
Electric Cars Again I know that I have said much of what I am about to say before, but I have been surprised at the way in which the media in general has happily accepted the government’s statement that they will ban petrol/diesel cars by 2040, so I feel that it is worth saying again. To ban fuels implies electric cars charged from an external source. Obviously there are numerous practical problems, how will everyone in a suburban road of terraced houses charge their cars? For example, but that is not the major stumbling block because the real problem is the rate of charging. To drive a medium sized car along a motorway at 70mph requires an average power output of approximately 40kW. Even a fast charging charge point is unlikely to charge at a rate anywhere near 40kw but even assuming that were possible it would be necessary to charge for 3hrs for a 3hr journey on the motorway (and then charge for a further 3hrs for the return journey). The charging rate is not only determined by the power available at the charging point but there will be limits on the rate at which the batteries can be charged in terms of current, temperature etc. Actual charging rates will be much lower than 40kW, charging from a domestic circuit is likely to be limited to 6kW and that would require 20hrs charging for 3hrs up the motorway. People fail to realise that when we fill our cars with petrol we are charging them at a rate of several megawatts. An alternative solution could be to have battery exchanging stations rather than charging points but I have no idea how practical or expensive that would be Hybrid cars (petrol/electric) can overcome the problem of motorway driving but they will require petrol or diesel fuel and we will continue to need our petrol stations, but hybrid could permit the banning of fuel burning whilst in town. Power requirements in town are very much lower, of course, and rechargeable cars are fine for that purpose but, as far as I can see, cars charged from an external source are likely to be limited to local motoring no matter how good the batteries might become, and all those cars we see trundling up the motorways every day will require fuel. One day that fuel may be hydrogen but I rather doubt that in 2040. Of course cars with big batteries could be charged up enough for long journeys on the motorway, but a suitable battery with a capacity of 240kWh that would be required for a return journey of 400miles at 70mph, is not even on the horizon. The idea of getting rid of all petrol and diesel cars may be wishful thinking, not to mention the problems associated with heavy goods transport. NHS A few weeks ago I had a nasty fall from which I am still recovering. It resulted in ambulance, paramedics and, ultimately, move to A&E. I arrived at reception at A&E on my ambulance trolley at about 05.50. I had to wait in reception until a cubicle became free, I finally was moved into a cubicle at about 09.00, after three hours on the trolley. I did not mind the wait, I was being looked after and was not too uncomfortable. During those three hours I had been joined by more patients on ambulance trolleys one of whom was obviously a dementia sufferer and he made it very clear that he did not want to be there. I noticed that the staff remained unruffled throughout and continued to treat everybody with the utmost patience, kindness and consideration. Once in the cubicle the nurses and doctors were equally kind and considerate despite the pressure they were under and their demeanour remained calm and professional. Although the wait for me was no great hardship, the ambulance paramedics were required to stay with me until the hospital medics took over, they also had to wait for their trolley, and this was frustrating for them because, of course, they were unavailable for other emergencies. Clearly the service was seriously over stretched and was losing efficiency as a result, which is regrettable. One way and another I have had a lot of experience of the NHS in the last two years and I have never failed to be impressed by the professionalism of the staff, especially the nursing staff, their patience, kindness, compassion, consideration and their sense of humour. It all goes to reassure patients and helps to keep them cheerful. A significant proportion of the medical staff were foreign, mostly European. I thought at times the behaviour of almost every member of staff was beyond what one could reasonably expect from any human being and wondered if it was a consequence of training or if it was that a certain type of person is attracted to the profession? Whatever it is that motivates them we are very lucky that they are there for us. It is sad that the state does not look after them better.