Published in 1963 by those wonderful people at Batsford (aaah, the world we have lost), this second hand volume smells perfectly, its pages turn easily, the paper is the 'right' weight, and the frontispiece is nicely done. And, even more pleasingly, look where the book's first home was:
Imagine, if you will, some Frenchie who (quite by accident) found himself in the British Council Library in 1963. Smarting still from the loss of Algeria (as he may well have been, and understandably too), but, nonetheless, well turned out in the latest Parisian style, he smugly sneers to himself about the hairy tweed jacket of the spotty rosbif librarian, then browses the shelves. But, what is this ? MERDE! Wellington's Peninsular Victories ! Merde, merde, merde!! Poor chap. Mind you, he might have been a Royalist, in which case, he would have sadly shaken his head, and wondered what might have been if the regicidal Republic, then that dreadful little man had not been in charge...
You should not infer from all this that I am in any way anti-French, for, in fact, I count myself a Francophile. Indeed, whereas I would question the whole foundation of the UK's supposed policy in Afghanistan - a Fourth Afghan War that the British people neither want nor need - I feel a little more at ease over France's Mali intervention. Mali, and that too fragile (and too long suffering) country of Algeria, is just too close to our European homeland, to use Gorbachev's phrase (now, there's a prophet without honour in his own land), to allow the loonies to win. So, good luck to 'em - the French, not the loonies. That, of course, brings me to the title of the post - Logistics. As is well known in the UK, the UK government has sent two of its six (or is that 8) Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs to provide vital logistical support to the French in Mali. What an interesting thing. Firstly, it shows the capacity of the US built aircraft (did our old Belfasts have something similar long ago?), secondly, it shows a real lack in France's logistical infrastructure, and, thirdly, it shows how the UK Prime Minister (yet another Scot, in effect) s concerned about his tricky European position. But, logistics:
Naval and Military Press Ltd at a beggarly £7.96 !
A last word on the RAF's C-17s. I live about 20 miles from Birmingham International Airport, which is not that far from the huge, state of the art Queen Elizabeth II hospital in Birmingham. It is where they take the British injured from Afghanistan. A C-17 makes a different sound from civil airliners, it looks quite different, quite military, it flies slowly, gently, calmly down towards Birmingham. Its cargo is fragile, suffering. I have yet to see a single person look up as it flies overhead. Mr Tony Blair, who once mentioned a blood debt in respect of the UK's involvement in the Fourth Afghan War, is an ex-politician from the Labour Party who earns, it is estimated, some £20 million a year. None of his immediate family has served, or is serving in Afghanistan.