Daily Archives: 14 October, 2009

Flying Officer Alan Bateman

Flying Officer Alan Bateman

Flying Officer Alan Bateman

I was contacted yesterday by Justine Hadden, who has produced a fascinating blog about her ancestor, Flying Officer Alan Bateman.

Bateman was a Bomber Pilot who was shot down in a Stirling Bomber over Southern Denmark in 1942. He was held in Stalag Luft III at Sagan, and was about to descend into the tunnel on the legendary Great Escape, when the plan was discovered by the Germans. He then took part in the infamous Long Marches during the last winter of the war, before being liberated in 1945.

I strongly reccomend having a read of Justine’s blog, which tells Alan’s story. It can be found by clicking here



Filed under Family History, Royal Air Force, World War One

are we soft?

I can well remember our first lecture in one of our first units studying History at University. In ‘early modern Europe – a different world?’ the whole thrust of the lecture was to encourage us not to see times gone by through our modern perspective, but to try and think about how life was fundamentally different.

And that point has stuck with me very clearly since then. For example, when was the last time the average person walked ten miles a day? or ate something that they grew or reared themselves? or built something? or found their way round a strange town without getting lost? How many people could survive out in the countryside for a couple of days with no food? Yet these were all things that people not so long ago had to do every day in some cases.

There’s no doubt about it: we’re soft. People moan nowadays if they dont get exactly what they want for tea, or if they have to walk somewhere, or if the bus is 2 minutes late. We have helpdesks and helplines for everything. Don’t worry about doing something yourself, get someone else to do it for you! If you dont feel like working, you can always find a way to scive off. Technology and science may have improved our lives in some sense, but in others, its made us soft and lazy. Hard work surely had its benefits. Very few working people would have been overweight. Firstly, because they simply did not have enough food to gorge themselves, and what they had was not loaded with fats or sugar. And secondly, they would have worked it off. Medieval Archers were much fitter and healthier than we are today, due to their demmanding exercise and more sensible diet and lifestyle.

But at the same time I don’t want to fall into the ‘youth of today’ trap. OK, there are some little toerags out there, but its not just young people. But one major difference is, at least people nowadays are honest. In years gone by if someone had a child out of wedlock, they either vanished, or hurriedly married someone, or the child became their ‘sister’. Paedophiles and abusers who were in positions of authority, say priests or councillors, got away with it due to their position. At least people have no heirs or graces now, which is at least refreshing.

But it is very worrying that on the whole, people are much softer than ever. And that peoples ideas of what constitutes a hero are so warped. Everyone knows who Katie Price and Cheryl Cole are, but compare them to Guy Gibson and Robert Cain. And some of the concepts of ‘respect’ that get bandied about are plain wrong. Shooting someone for supposedly ‘dissing’ you is not respectful. And nothing is killing someone for going against your wishes honourable ‘honourable’.


Filed under debate, social history