Tag Archives: The Real World

BBC News – RAF airman blogging from Afghanistan’s front line

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I’ve been following Royal Air Force Sgt Ford on Twitter, and his blog, for a little while. I have found it inspiring and moving.

I have always been against our military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I will always fully support the men and women sent out to do the dirty work at the behest of nobody politicians.

Follow Sgt Alex Ford on http://twitter.com/RAFairman and on his blog http://rafairman.wordpress.com

Gurublog – The Decline and Fall of British influence?

“David Cameron? Who is he? Who’s even heard of William Hague? How dare they talk about Egypt like that? Who do they think they are? ” The Egyptian Foreign Ministry official was scornful – sent out to tell me what the boss thinks before I interviewed him. When I got called in for a private chat off camera the Foreign Minister himself was a little more diplomatic, but only a little. Of course this was an urbane pillar of the regime, in the middle of a crisis, with the revolution virtually at his door. So an irritated mood would have been quite understandable. But the thing Britain’s FCO ought perhaps to worry more about was not anger, but disdain. He laughed about David Cameron and William Hague, waving off their words with a pull of his face and a shrug. I didn’t need a diplomatic decoder to work out what he was really saying : “Britain doesn’t matter, who cares what it says?” Out on the streets they don’t have a much higher opinion of Britain with our mother of parliaments and democratic history – the refusal to back the protesters, the following of the Washington line, the use of almost exactly the same phrases as Mubarak about orderly transition, the need to avoid chaos, the dangers of the Muslim Brotherhood and the need for broad based government – it has not exactly left London looking like a beacon of democratic hope. So here we are – 21st century democratic revolutionary thinking spreading across the middle east and Britain isn’t much liked by anyone on any side. That’s a tricky place to be for a declining world power.

Bang on! Right on the noddle! I scoffed at William Hague, Foreign Secretary, giving forth words on his way to Tunisia. It was all meaningless guff, and would be quite rightly ignored by everyone except his colleagues.

It’s time we, as a country, stopped pretending we mattered or have any influence at all. I only have to look around to see obvious signs that we’re not much better than a second world country at best.

We’ve waited for this revolution for years | Mona Eltahawy | CiF | The Observer

Brave little Tunisia, resuscitator of the Arab imagination. Tunisia, homeland of the father of Arab revolution: Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old who set himself on fire to protest at a desperation at unemployment and repression that covers the region. He set on fire the Arab world’s body politic and snapped us all to attention. His self-immolation set into motion Tunisian protests that in just 29 days toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali‘s 23-year dictatorship. We watched, we said wow and we thought: that’s it? Ben Ali ran away that quickly? It’s that easy?

I am trying to be happier this year, but sometimes events are too big to be simply ignored.

In the workshop

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Thanks to the nice fellows at Malling Repair Services in Maidstone – disclosure: we’ve have our cars serviced there for many years – I was given free rein with my camera around their workshop. If you live in the Medway Towns or Maidstone areas, you could do worse than give them a call if your motor needs attention: 01622 663960. Tell them I sent you.

It was an interesting exercise for a couple of reasons. First, it forced me to make pictures in fairly restricted circumstances. Second, it was quite dark, and I had to push the camera with high ISO and exposure compensation to get usable shutter speeds (you will, of course, recall my aversion to flash photography). Consequently, I had to spend some time in post-processing in order to get things looking right again, and overcome the extra noise. Newer cameras would have coped with this much better than my poor old 400D, but that’s another story.

I restricted myself to using an ƒ/2 35mm prime lens (equivalent to 50mm on the APS-C body), partly for the brightness, partly to stop myself getting lazy with framing.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the way the shots came out. I’ve put my favourites in my Flickr Photostream, and a lot more have found a home over at Britstock Photo.