Big Brother Society

Jan Leeming

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Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 2nd March 2011


I haven’t had a rant for a while and here I go. Having phoned my sister this morning, she nailed it in one by saying we are living in a ‘Big Brother Society’ and indeed we are.

I am totally enjoying my Guides Course at Canterbury Cathedral and spending hours looking up and verifying facts on the Internet – there’s only so much you can take down as notes and I can’t always decipher my scribble done whilst standing up and moving around the Cathedral. And then on Monday we got the envelopes – Child Protection – we have to attend a Four Hour seminar (remember we are all volunteers) and fill in two sets of forms for clearance with the Criminal Records Bureau. Of course, I totally agree that we have to protect all, not just children, from abuse but we appear to have strayed far from the right of ‘Habeas Corpus’ which when I was at school was taught as ‘one is presumed innocent until proven guilty’. Today it seems to have swung the other way and thanks to the dastardly deeds of the few, the majority are now viewed with suspicion and almost presumed ‘guilty until proven innocent’. Look at the number of cases where relatively well paid (but also very young and with little experience of life) Social Workers can overlook the blindingly obvious and leave children in the care of drunken, abusive parents until they are starved or beaten to death and then look at the world where innocent people who merely wish to do ‘something for nothing’ (rather unusual in today’s world) are subjected to all manner of checks. So I hear you say ‘ if there’s nothing to hide, why be annoyed’? Human nature is such that you will always get evil and good people and the evil ones can invariably find ways around the rules. And because of the sins or transgressions of the few, the majority are lumbered with a plethora of forest depleting paperwork. Or is this another case of ‘jobs for the boys’ and yet more ‘Non-jobs – dozens of which are advertised in the Guardian on a regular basis. (They actually make very amusing reading if one didn’t realize that we, the public are picking up the salary bills for these Council Workers.  There were two separate posts advertised at around £35,000 pa - one for Lesbian Rights and one for Gay Rights.  I noted there was no job offered for Heterosexual Rights.  I have many homosexual friends and all they want is to live their lives and just be accepted  - they do not ask to be made a 'special case'!!!!  Come to think of it, there's a Black Police Federation but, as far as I know, there's no White Police Federation.)  I thought David Cameron was going to do away with  useless Bureacracy - but then he's renegged on most of his election promises so don't hold your breath.

In fact if I weren’t so enthralled with Canterbury Cathedral and so much in awe of the Artistry, Dedication, History and the Power of Belief behind this magnificent building, I would tell them where to put their CRB Forms. But I really am bowled over by the Cathedral and want to give a little something back by helping others to appreciate this Wonderful and Holy Place about which I cannot speak highly enough.

I read about struggling charities who are finding it more and more difficult to get volunteers – do you wonder at it? Look at the case in Gloucester where the women who’d been doing the flowers for the Cathedral for years were asked to subject themselves to checks and refused. Gloucester Cathedral has now lost volunteer flower arrangers with years of experience.

We really do live in a Mad, Mad, Mad World. I am so glad I was young when I was. I was born into a country just struggling out of a devastating war. Most of us had nothing and the only way was ‘UP’. People were respectful of each other and of authority, and had a huge work ethic. I went to a Catholic Convent and it was drummed into us that drawing the dole (benefit today) was tantamount to a mortal sin. Of course, there were more jobs available then but people were too proud to take help unless absolutely necessary. We didn’t live on credit and we didn’t expect others to provide for us. So your coffee table was a wooden box with a tea towel and you were happy to have ‘hand-me-down’ furniture from friends and relatives. And as for illegitimacy (sorry don’t think we can use that word anymore) – the family rallied around and usually the young lady didn’t make the same mistake again and again and again because she could count on a healthy dollop of hand out cash!

OK – I’ll get off the soap-box and write another blog about the wonderful Canterbury Cathedral. I took the camera today on my Second Guided Tour and hope to share with you a few of the wonders of this superb building.


Till next time,  Jan.

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