Wednesday, October 26, 2016
A British pensioner who boasts 'I don't care if you are offended' has become an unlikely hit on YouTube for his outspoken opinions on controversial issues.
Pat Condell, 66, has 275,000 subscribers and has racked up more than 64 million views of his dead-pan monologues on issues including Islam, feminism, the EU and political correctness. One of his videos entitled ‘Welcome to Saudi Britain’ was removed by YouTube. However, the video-sharing website said it had taken down the post 'erroneously' and it was soon reinstated, a move that was applauded by famous atheist Richard Dawkins.
But Mr Condell, who was born in Ireland and lives in London, has attracted lots of criticism, from being called an 'old fart' to receiving death threats. Previous to becoming a viral sensation, Mr Condell worked the comedy circuit across Britain, and used to appear regularly on BBC Radio One's Loose Talk.
In 2007 he said: ‘Well it’s a gloomy, rainy old day to be here in London, but it could be worse; I could be in Saudi Arabia where men are men, and women are cattle.’
In 2008: ‘Being called close-minded by religious people is a bit like being called yellow by a bunch of bananas.’
In 2010: ‘If the Catholic Church hadn’t so consistently and virulently condemned the Jews for killing Jesus, there would have been no Holocaust.’
In 2011: ‘When you allow millions of people to immigrate from places where they mutilate their daughters as a matter of course; where they kill them in a heartbeat over some twisted sense of honour; and where rape victims are treated as criminals; it doesn’t take a genius to know that you’re going to be importing these values and attitudes as well, wholesale, unless you take steps to prevent it.’
Talking about the 2011 summer riots Mr Condell said: ‘You probably know that this week Britain has been terrorised by an underclass of welfare-dependent, drug-addled criminal scum who have been allowed to run riot in the streets because the police haven’t been allowed to do their job and protect the public.’
In 2013 he said: ‘I’m always impressed by students who know so much about the world they feel no need to listen to anyone else’s opinions, aren’t you? Especially when they feel compelled to actively shout them down.’
And in 2016 in the run up to the EU referendum whilst speaking about the migrant crisis, Mr Condell said: ‘The two countries who have opened the borders most widely, Sweden and Germany, are now plagued by an epidemic of migrant rape and sexual assault.’
Oh, so very correct and, oh, so beautifully politically incorrect! Love him or hate him - he hits the nail.
For more, go to www.patcondell.net.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Take one part sun-soaked, palm-lined beach, add hammock stretched between two palm trees, dash of ice-cold beer, and a pinch of gentle tradewinds, and finish with a twist of tropical sunset. It's easy to lose track of time in the land where time begins. Welcome to the South Sea Island Paradise of Ha'apai in the tiny Kingdom of Tonga!
The peace and tranquility of Ha'apai (in a South Pacific travel poster setting) is an experience not to be missed! If relaxing was an Olympic Games event, this is where you'd come to train! These are the islands where the famous mutiny on the Bounty occurred (could you blame them?), the Port-au-Prince was ransacked, and where Captain James Cook who found Ha'apai to be the perfect place for rest and relaxation and made long stopovers at Nomuka in 1774 and 1777 and Lifuka in 1783, dubbed Tonga "The Friendly Islands."
The low coral islands lined by coconut palms along colourful lagoons and reefs, offer miles of deserted white sandy beaches where you can explore and linger as long as you like. Towering volcanoes can be found here too. In all there are 60 small islands in the Ha'apai Group, 17 of which are inhabited, and all are uniquely special.
The traditional lifestyle of the locals is supported by fishing, agriculture and handicrafts. The friendliest people you can meet are here in Ha'apai. Caesar is to have said, "Let me have men about me that are fat". Well, he would have loved Tonga because the people of Tonga, by and large, are fat. They are proud to be fat. They want to stay fat. If they aren't fat enough by Tongan standards, they want to get fatter. Perhaps that's why "Fakalahi Me'akai" which means "Grow more food", is inscribed on every Tongan coin. And "The Complete Book of Running" would never make the bestseller list in Tonga. The only joggers here are foreigners while bulky Tongans sit in the shade and follow them with uncomprehending stares.
The centre of Ha'apai, Pangai, is located on the island of Lifuka. Just a short trip from the airport, Pangai offers a great deal, from churches, to a royal palace, tombs, fortresses, monuments, shipwrecks, shops and banking services. There's a range of accommodation here, all just moments from the beaches. My favourite is Billy's Place.
And check out the Mariner's Café. It's THE (only) meeting place in Pangai. It was started in 1998 by the taciturn Trevor Gregory (he's a Kiwi - enough said?), who had been wandering about in his yacht "Tranquillo" since leaving Tauranga in August 1997 - "Just liked the place" he said, sold his boat in September 1998, and stayed on. He sold the café to the 40-something South African Craig Airey who, with his Polish partner Magda Malanowska, arrived on the island in his Endurance 37 yacht "Gwendolyn" in mid-2007*.
The new Café-owner Craig has already succumbed to the siren song of these remote and soporific islands which is that on this small and human-sized stage your life will count for more and even your smallest accomplishments will be remembered. Of those who do remain, few are ever struck by homesickness. Why would they want to leave? They echo closely Louis Becke's sentiments - of whom they know nothing - who once wrote about life in the South Seas, "Return? not they! Why should they go back? Here they had all things which are wont to satisfy man here below. A paradise of Eden-like beauty, amid which they wandered day by day all unheeding of the morrow. Why - why, indeed, should they leave the land of magical delights for the cold climate and still more glacial moral atmosphere of their native land, miscalled home?" (Mind you, Saint Ignatious of Loyola's observation on donkeys could be equally applied to many expatriates living in Tonga, "Content to chew the simplest of foods he is free from ambition, untouched by the need to improve himself and even unaware of his pitiful plight. He spends his days as idly as possible and works only when beaten...")
There are so many romantic beaches to wander at sunrise and sunset, or in fact, all day long! You can explore on foot or mountain-bike too - just bring along a change of clothes, beach towel, and snorkel and mask. As you stay in a traditional fale on a deserted beach or uninhabited island, you may think for a moment you have died and gone to heaven. But this paradise is real. And you can live this dream lifestyle for a fraction of what it costs to live anywhere else.
Avid explorers may be tempted to visit the large volcanic islands of Tofua and adjacent Kao in the west part of the group. It was 30 nautical miles from Tofua that the mutiny on the Bounty actually occurred on April 28, 1789. Captain Bligh navigated his 23-foot open launch first to Tofua where he spent four days and where the only casualty of his epic 3,618 nautical mile long voyage occurred: a crewman named John Norton was stoned to death by natives when they tried to seek refuge in a cave while trying to augment their meagre provisions. Tofua is the most active volcano in Tonga and often bellows smoke. The island has virgin rain forest, lots of pumice, is rich in bird life and has a stunning lake in its crater. It's possible to walk to the summit in under 2 hours from landing on the coast, and it's much faster coming back down. Kao is considerably smaller in size but its towering perfectly cylindrical peak is the highest point in Tonga at 1109 metres. On a clear day, you can see Kao on the horizon from Lifuka, 70 kilometres away.
In 2004 a German television producer asked for two volunteer families to live for three months on the tiny island of Ha'ano in Ha'apai which is just six kilometres long and has 400 inhabitants spread over four villages. Some 400 families volunteered from which the producer picked Steffen Kinder's and Uwe Armbruster's families, with altogether five children and even a grand-dad. They lived on the island in primitive conditions, cooking on an open fire, working in a neighbour's plantation, and, of course, there was no fridge, no TV, no supermarket. Constant rain for the first three weeks, in the constant humidity the smallest cut becoming a festering sore, and an invasion of lice and fleas and cockroaches were some of the downsides of living in a South Sea Paradise. Their experiences were documented in the film "Traumfischer" which ran on German television and is also available on DVD. Gabriela Kinder's final comments, "Wir wären gerne länger geblieben, aber dorthin auszuwandern stand und steht nicht zur Debatte. Ich würde viele Dinge, die ich sehr schätze, vermissen, zum Beispiel klassische Musik, Konzerte, Theater, Museen und auch Kneipen. Deswegen würde es uns auch eher nach Italien ziehen, falls wir einmal aus Deutschland weggehen sollten." ["We would have liked to stay longer but to permanently settle there was out of the question. There are too many things I would have missed, for instance, classical music, concerts, theatre, museums, even our corner-pub. Should we ever consider leaving Germany, it'd be to some place such as Italy."]
Another film that deals sympathetically with Tonga and its incredible natural beauty is "The Other Side of Heaven" which is about John H. Groberg's experience as a Mormon missionary in the Tongan islands in the 1950s. It is based on the book that he wrote about his experiences, "In the Eye of the Storm." The movie focuses on Groberg's adventurous experiences and trials while serving as a missionary in the South Pacific. While portraying these events, the film refrains from being preachy and discusses little theology, instead portraying what missionaries used to have to deal with during their missions.
If you're visiting Tonga, be sure to visit Ha'apai: one of the most beautiful groups of islands to be found in the South Pacific. With so many highlights, attractions and history, one cannot visit Tonga without visiting Ha'apai!
*) Craig has since moved on to Uoleva where he runs Talitali'anga Eco Resort with Kristen Duirs; however, Magda still runs the Mariner's Café.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
While in Saudi Arabia, my view of the world was what I saw on Saudi television which was an endless string of "news" of members of the royal family going abroad or returning from abroad.
Then, on Thursday nights, Saudi television would show some poor foreigner, who had received the death penalty, re-enact his crime in front of the camera before 'getting the chop' in the city square the following morning. I don't know if this re-enactment is still practised; the beheadings certainly are with at least 158 executions carried out in 2015 and 134 so far this year.
Murder and drug trafficking cases account for the majority of them. Members of Saudi Arabia's vast royal family of more than thirty-thousand are only rarely known to have been executed as the royal family looks after its own. One of the most prominent cases was Faisal bin Musaid al Saud, who assassinated his uncle, King Faisal, in 1975. This year, Prince Turki bin Saud al-Kabir 'got the chop' for murder - read more.
As for Prince Nayef bin Sultan bin Fawwaz Al Shaalan who was convicted in absentia to ten years' imprisonment for smuggling a whole ton of cocaine into France as shown in the above video clip, he's thought to be safe and hiding out in Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
All those years of feeding them with exotic fruit straight from the Fresh Food People ® have paid dividends: it's a girl! Now we have three mouths to feed: mum and dad and the little one (well, let's call it two-and-a-half mouths ☺)
Lucky them! I'm still limited to eating porridge after my tooth removal.