Friday, 23 January 2015

Buy Britisch Motorrad

I've often felt that I should get another Triumph. I owned one briefly in the late 60's, a Thunderbird, and I once looked after a friends Tiger Cub. Both were fun and left the traditional oil puddle, something of a trade mark for British bikes of that vintage.

These days I'm on a BMW R1200R but having made an interesting discovery I don't feel quite so guilty. I hadn't been aware until very recently that the Triumph company was actually started in the 1880s in Coventry, by Siegfried Bettmann, a German Jewish chap from Nuremberg. He started a high-quality bicycle company (the Triumph Cycle Co.), which, at the very beginning of the 20th century, started making motor-bicycles (after a very short time using proprietary engines but then one designed and built in-house).

Bettmann was joined by a fellow countryman, Mauritz Johann Schulte, sometime in the 1890s, and the two maintained an active, if sometimes rather acrimonious, business partnership until Schulte left the company in 1919. Interestingly Bettmann became so respected a local figure he was elected Mayor of Coventry in 1913, but sadly the effects of anti-German feeling meant that he had to relinquish that position soon after the outbreak of war (although he avoided being interned).
It intrigued me that the manufacturers of the Triumph Model H motorcycle which was the primary British Dispatch Rider bike of WWI was built by a company founded by two Germans.

Und zo, it zeems zat I vill heff to shpeak viz ein Cherman eccent veneffer I em reiding ein Triumph. Wunderbar!
Auf widersehen


Friday, 16 January 2015

Paris, Belgium........

Recent atrocities in France and the police operations in Belgium the other day prompted me to think of this:

In the dark days of Irish republican terrorism I found myself on a professional study week, in The Netherlands, in a white transit personnel carrier, with several other of my then work colleagues. A double murder by automatic weapons in nearby Roermond was reported to our hosts and we were told that we should up our vigilance as we were in a British registered vehicle and being as we all looked like police officers (because we were), or military personnel, we might be at a slightly enhanced risk. We pointed out to our hosts that we had been at a `slightly enhanced risk` in our own country for our entire service.

The perpetrators drove across the various borders with ease, impunity and their weapons. The `Shengen Agreement` helped considerably. In the light of recent events I suspect that it still does.
Our Prime Minister at the time the agreement was proceeding through the Eu Parliament was Margaret Thatcher. She did not like it one bit. To this day the UK remains outside the `Shengen Group`.

We are in a different place today than we were then, but if you read the attached, particularly the final paragraph, you will see that it still resonates.

Names and faces simply turn into statistics after the tears dry up.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Oh Captain, MY Captain?

The Sunday Times, 11/01/15:
" Whitehall sources say more than 30 Isis fighters in the UK have been placed under surveillance by MI5 because they are considered a serious threat.
Now a further 120 who retain “extremist” views but have escaped detailed scrutiny will be reassessed amid fears that they have the firearms training to commit a copycat attack."

It's at times like these I turn to people former Rail Regulator and International Rail Regulator, the economic regulatory authority for the railways in Great Britain......??? 

 (personal thoughts: `how dare you besmirch that dare you wear very dare you`)