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By ATWadmin On April 30th, 2008 at 6:32 am

It’s a year ago today since my father died.

I’ve not been looking forward to this day – the first anniversary of his death. In truth, I have been rather dreading it and it has been playing on my mind for some weeks now.

It only seems like yesterday since I went in to visit him one morning and found him lying dead in his hospital bed. Still warm to the touch but still gone – his suffering over. The image is burnt into my memory. I remember going to tell the nurse on duty that he had died, she didn’t know. She apologised to me – but for what? However he did not die alone – I believe his Maker was there with him. He had faith. I try.

12 months have passed since that day and I miss him.

I know that is a selfish thing to say this because in truth he suffered greatly towards the end of his days as cancer devoured his body and it was a relief for him to go. He told me that he wanted away and his wish was granted to him by a merciful God. He knew he was dying and lord knows there was precious little dignity for him in his final months but he did his best to cope. I used to leave his hospital bed after the nightly visit with a brave face on that did not last much longer than the length of corridor I walked.

Though he has gone, there is a vast hole left behind for me.

I miss his good humour and his ability to pass life’s many travails off with a smile. I think that sometimes I may come across to you, dear reader, as rather more serious and intense than I actually am. In reality I believe that I am a younger version of what he was in the sense that I find life is easier if you can smile at it, rather than frown. Yes I know I do rail and protest at some things – hence this blog! – but you know folks, my bark is much worse than my bite. What always amused me about my Dad was that the bigger the hole he would find himself in – maybe some shares he bought expecting colossal dividends would nose-dive for example, he would think about it for a while and then find a way to look on the bright side of things! He didn’t take life that seriously, though he took his duties as husband and father very seriously. Duty mattered to him and it does to me.

I miss his modesty. He was such a kind and generous man and whilst he liked money he also liked to give it to those who needed it more than him. Throughout his 78 years on this earth he was the type of amiable soul who got on with people, he was a friend to many and at his funeral last year I was touched by the tributes paid to him by young, middle-aged and old. He was a man of principle who did what he said he would do. His word was his bond. I try to be the same.

I miss his enquiries into my own life. He was always interested in what his grandchildren were doing and delighted in their success. He would be so impressed to know his grandson can now drive and that his grand-daughter has dyed her hair purple! He also liked to know about my commercial success and would have been proud of my first book. He took the view that politicians were a rum lot, and he was right.

I miss my great weekly debates with him on politics and religion. We knew how to rile each other, as father and son can do so well. But we never fell out over these things and I would usually take extreme positions on issues in order to get a scathing response from him. He rarely let me down. He was a man who enjoyed debate with others and I remember him telling me about his public questioning of Lord Eames, head of the Anglican Church in Ireland. You don’t think my dissenting character came out of the blue, do you?

Above all I just miss the fact that he is just not there anymore. Sometimes I wonder where he has gone. I struggle to understand it all. I look up at the night sky some evenings and see all those stars twinkling across the universe and ask myself where is the man who was such a central part of my life?

It’s been very hard for me to write this these words but writing is what I probably do best. I think it helps release some of the pain stored up inside me. Later today I will go and visit his grave in a little country churchyard and have some time for reflection.

John Joseph Vance – born 26th February 1929 – died 30th April 2007.

Missed by your sorrowing son .

Moment of Truth in Iraq

By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

Many of you might already know Michael Yon by his widely publicized, hugely popular photographs from the war front.
A former US Green Beret, Yon has been working as an embed journalist since December 2004. He works freelance and has been embedded with both American and British troops. He writes what he sees and  this book, Moment of Truth in Iraq,  provides one of the most complete, interesting, and even-handed accounts I personally have ever read.

As an embed, Yon witnessed mistakes committed during the early years of the war, and  recently, witnessed the precarious “second chance” being played out by General Petreaus and his troops. Yon writes of the guerrilla warfare, in progress as you read this book review.  This book documents the actions of our soldiers as they carve out a precarious victory.

Yon has a captivating writing style.  But don’t believe me; judge for yourself. Here is an excerpt from his book from a section describing his embed with British troops:

                                                                    Combat in Basra


    The British soldiers had been out longer than thirteen hours and the heat was stifling. Ambient temperature was now 115 F outside the vehicles, and temperatures approached 70 C (around 150F) inside. Soldiers poured water down their body armor.  The driver was naked other than his body armor and helmet, while soldiers in the back literally pulled down their pants. This was more than an attempt at comfort; they were trying not to die. Thick clouds of thick dust baked the putrid Basra odors until they could gag a goat, although by then the soldiers inside the Bulldogs and Warriors could have offered serious competition in a stink contest. With their heavy body armor and helmets, and laden with ammunition, rashes erupted on their skin. Their goggles and ballistic glasses were filthy. The place was like a toilet used as an oven. The people on the septic streets were flushed with hostility.

They Shot Cyrus

By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Fans of the 1979 classic bad film "The Warriors" will recall the line that sent the Warriors Gang on the run.  They were framed for the shooting of Cyrus, the gang leader who sought to unite all the gangs, and had to make their way through the pre-Guiliani New York Subway System from the Bronx to Coney Island with all the other gangs chasing after them since the real killer shouted out about one of the Warriors that "He Shot Cyrus". 

Fast Foward to our latest Lolita controversy, the Vanity Fair photo shoot spread of 15 year old Miley Cyrus, a Disney star and alleged wholesome girl next door.  Miley is the star of a kids show and the daughter of the vividly untalented Billy Ray Cyrus, whose Mullet Music hit "Achy Breaky Heart"  brought more scorn on American culture than a convention of French Film Critics.

The photo spread is sexually suggestive, no nudity, but does have a naked yet wrapped in a blanket Miley staring in a sexual pout at the camera.  There is also a more clothed yet equally disturbing shot of Miley and her father in a pose that seems frankly more boyfriend girlfriend than father daughter (unless of course one subscribes to West Virginia Magazine).   I suppose the resulting avalanche of publicity is what the magazine, the photographer and the parents wanted.  Billy Ray is distancing himself from the Miley in a blanket shot like Claude Rains distanced himself from gambling at Rick’s in Casablanca (I am shocked, shocked). 

I suppose sexually suggestive girls is nothing new.  The Spears family in their trailer park and the Hiltons in their mansions seem quite comfortable in their daughters degradation.   And let us face it, there is an audience for this or these antics wouldn’t be topping news of such minor events as two wars.   Will we as a society get a handle on our excesses?  And how will we go about doing so?  Or is the counter-culture going to become the culture?           



By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Orville and Wilber Wright were famous for their invention of the first successful airplane.  An iconic American moment was when they helped it to soar over Kitty Hawk.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has launched his own invention (himself) this week, and instead of helping something to soar he is helping to bring down Obama’s campaign.  In a series of interviews, press conferences and personal appearances, he is proving that the Youtube clips of his sermons were only the tip of a rather vain and strange iceberg.   At this point, one suspects Obama may actually wish he was a Muslim, as his political and spiritual alignment with this rambling reverand will clearly cause him great harm in the nomination process and the general election should he manage to prevail over a still standing Hillary Clinton. 

Obama seems to be incapable of controlling events, which is the double-edged sword of his candidacy.  He rode a wave of racial good intentions to the top despite a slim resume.  But he’s caught in the stream of events, and the current of events is now pushing him past his ultimate destination, victory, much like Huck Finn on his raft on the Mississippi River when he was unable to make the landing at Cairo, Illinois* and was forced downstream.  Huck Finn’s adventure had a happy ending, will Obama’s?

Here is what Obama has to do – he has to disavow brother Wright with the vengence of an Old Testament Prophet (like the Prophet Jeremiah for example).  Obama’s crafty "I could no more disavow him than my own people" speech was glorified almost universally in the media but debunked here on ATW (See "Grandma Got Run Over By A Media Dear" by one of our brillant writers) .   He needs to burn the mutha out with a Carthage like slapdown on the Rev.’s behavior and gross comments.  Otherwise, voters will be left with the conclusion that if Obama can’t put a egomaniac preacher in his place, he’s hardly going to be able to deal with an egomaniac nuke building North Korean and a host of other international and domestic issues.


* Thanks Alan.        


By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 8:14 am

There is a debate in the Republic of Ireland at the moment as to whether the Irish Police Force (The Gardai) should routinely carry guns.

Debate has raged within the force about arming all officers since the shooting last September of Paul Sherlock, an unarmed traffic garda, during the morning rush hour in Dublin’s North Strand. The 34-year-old was shot in the stomach from close range with a shotgun by one of the occupants of a stolen car he was pursuing at the time. John Healy, GRA deputy general secretary, believes the attack of an unarmed officer marked a watershed for policing in the state. “It is with great regret that we now have to consider the routine arming of uniformed gardai, but that is the reality of modern Ireland,” he said.

I agree with him – it is important that police officers can defend themselves against armed thugs and unfortunately there are plenty of them in the Republic. It is a sign of the lawless times that this change id needed but we must not risk the lives of those who seek to enforce the law by denying them the necessary protection – in this case, guns.


By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 8:08 am

Not only does Iran not have any homosexuals, it also seeks to have no Barbie dolls.

Why? Well, because "The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger," says Iranian top prosecutor Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi in a letter to Parviz Davoudi, Iran’s vice-president. "The appearance of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and … computer games and movies are all a danger warning to the officials in the cultural arena."

This in a country which hangs gay people, which exalts in oppressing women, which exports terrorism and which has a Holocaust-denying Leader. Mmm – I’d say Barbie is pretty low down the list of things that they need to sort out, wouldn’t you?  


By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 8:01 am

I suggest that Ulster Unionist Deputy Leader, and my old schoolpal, Danny Kennedy, needs to lighten up.

He has criticised the Celtic FC goalkeeper – who revealed a ‘God bless the Pope’ T-shirt after a 3-2 win over Rangers at Parkhead! Danny spoke out after Poland international Artur Boruc, nicknamed the ‘Holy Goalie’ by Hoops fans, stripped off his jersey to show the T-shirt with the slogan!  I think it was a laugh and not to be taken seriously. Yes it probably does highlight the religious division between these two football teams but who is surprsied by that? I’m hoping that whenever Rangers beat Celtic next their goalkeeper will unveil a "God save the Queen" t-shirt and that Celtic fans will respond with equal good grace! 


By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 7:53 am

The growth of feral youth in Britain, accompanied by the decline of the rule of law, is manifest in the news that an ex-policewoman, Julie Pickford was kicked unconscious by 30-strong drunken teenage gang for asking them not to throw popcorn on a tram.  Without warning, one girl stood up and punched her in the face and then a mob of up to 30 teenagers joined in, punching her and stamping on her. With blood streaming from her injuries and £50 stolen from her handbag, she was thrown off the tram at the next stop in Sale, Greater Manchester. There is a generation of young people growing up that show no respect for other people and who will do what they want to whoever they want, confident that they will most likely not be caught and even if they are caught, they will get the  most risible punishment.  


By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 7:41 am

As New Hampshires’ Bishop Gene Robinson puts it, he always wanted to be a June Bride. And so it is that in but a few weeks time he will enter into a  civil ceremony with his "husband" Mark. From where I stand, Robinson is a man who obsesses over his sexuality and has precious little to say about the Christian faith. He is a divisive figure but one that is fawned over by the liberal media who love the idea of such a senior gay cleric.  Last evening he was given a very sympathetic hearing by the pro-Gay BBC, for example. Now it seems to me that his actions may well lead to a massive split in the Anglican communion which would be a very good thing as the godly residue within it moves away from the modern feel-good liberal section. God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform! I do not condemn Robinson for his sexuality since that is his choice, but I do condemn him for the way in which he fails to uphold Biblical truths which are diametrically opposed to the lifestyle he chooses.


By ATWadmin On April 29th, 2008 at 7:30 am

The UN is holding a summit in Berne in Switzerland to discuss the global food crisis.

No doubt over a sumptious meal or two, the great and the good will salve their consciences by ensuring that international financial aid is increased. The UK has already promised to raise the amount of British taxpayer funds it hands over, and I’m sure others will follow. This is a wonderful substitute for actually DEALING with the causes of this food crisis.

I quote…

"The UN expert on the right to food has called for the production of biofuels to be suspended, claiming they push food prices up. The head of the UN’s environment programme, meanwhile, believes biofuels are key to providing alternative energy for the future."

What could be clearer? In the meantime, let them eat cake.