About Me

"Setting the world to rights"...one blog at a time! Plus anything else that comes to mind

Monday, 21 February 2011

Proposed benefit payment for prisoners

Well now, according to the papers today there are suggestions that prisoners should receive benefits. Ahem, benefits are meant to ensure no-one is homeless and starving. Prisoners don't have expenses. They are provided with bed, board and health services. They also get entertainment, clothing and education - if they want it. What, exactly, do they need further income for?

It seems it's to do with the Human Rights Act. Here we go again! Surely, by breaking the law, they have forfeited all rights apart from the humanitarian rights to be fed, watered, housed and not physically or mentally abused in any way? Anything more than this should be considered a bonus, not a right, and only if the law-abiding population paying for their incarceration can afford more...and that's a big 'if' these days.

No, I say squash this proposal right away.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Tahrir Square

Relief! My friend arrived back in Cairo on Friday to the news that Mubarak had stepped down. Her son had been in Tahrir Square that day and reported the most incredible atmosphere. He took her to the square today to experience it for herself and I've received a photograph of her in front of an army tank. I've learned that her son had patrolled with his cousins, defending homes, water pumps and electricity supplies, at one stage they had to chase off an escaped prisoner. I'm immensely proud of him but I'm very glad he did't let me know at the time, I'd have worried even more than I did.

The work now is to re-establish normal life and the Egyptian people have taken the first practical step of cleaning and repairing Tahrir Square. Next comes the cleaning and repairing of their society and I wish them every success in their work.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011


I’ve been watching the Egyptian situation with a personal interest. I was in Alexandria for 10 days last spring, staying with an old school friend and her Egyptian husband and son. My friend flew back to the UK for a brief, long-planned visit with her parents the day before Cairo airport closed. Had she known events would escalate as they have she would have stayed there. She’s now worried about whether she will be able to return as planned.

Her husband and son had driven from Alexandria to Cairo, skirting the problem areas, to take her to the airport on their way to her husband’s village outside Cairo where they have a house and numerous relatives. The internet has been down, even if they had had access in the village, and SMS messaging has been virtually non-existant. I’ve managed to speak to both her husband and son over the last few days on the mobile phone and they assure me they are safe and well but here we have all been worrying about what will happen next. Now, tonight, I watch the mounting violence on the news with horror.

The point is, for me, we learn about this sort of thing in the news all the time; somewhere in the world someone is living in fear of their life. We watch events unfold and decry the waste of life, the devastating effects on society; feel for the people involved and hope that everything works out in the end. Then something happens in a place we’ve been to and to people we know and care about. The shock, fear, sympathy we thought we’ve felt in the past pales beside the horror of realising it’s now personal.

I first went to Egypt 30 odd years ago when my friend first married, then again last year. Everyone I met on both occasions was kind, interested, proud of their country and eager to make sure I felt welcome. Egypt changed a lot in the 30 years between my visits, more western-style shops and malls, fewer markets for example – better toilets! What hadn’t changed was the good-hearted interest towards a visitor.

I shudder now to think of the good people I met, in the midst of all this terror. I hope to go back to Egypt later this year and I hope this trouble will be behind them. Do I care about the Egyptian people as a whole? Yes, but I confess to a greater concern for those individuals I know, and pray they are all there and safe when I return.