Westie's Christmas Message, 2012

Hi there, all you exCAPers, so that's another year – and what a mixed up bag it has been! It would fit Clint Eastwood's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly very appropriately.

Thank heaven for the Olympics and the ParaOlympics, which amongst all the doom and gloom, were frankly the only shining light – but my, what a beacon they turned out to be! Despite the somewhat rocky start by the G4S group, who turned security into a bit of a farce, and caused a number of faces in high places to distinctly colour, the occasions swept across the nation, lifting everyone's spirits.

From the moment the Games were awarded to London, there had been the incessant knockers – questioning whether they should ever have been awarded to us, doubting that we would ever be ready and be able to produce on time, and forecasting a doomed legacy of financial penury, for the National as a whole and London in particular. And of course, once the World's financial holocaust struck, their fears were only strengthened!

Thankfully, they, and frankly few others, reckoned without our very own Clint Eastwood, namely Lord Sebastian Coe, who with guns blazing but with the same quiet laconic resolve of the Man with No Name, rode into town, and saved the day – or to be more precise, the year!

From the magnificent Opening Ceremonies of both sporting spectaculars to their respective glorious conclusions, the Nation's spirits were lifted – almost reluctantly at first it seemed – from sceptical suspicion in some quarters, to ultimately, a unanimous, tumultuous outpouring of unbridled, nationalistic pride and passion, for a spectacle which was undoubtedly the very Great in Britain, at its glorious best.

Of course, winning a few gongs did help along the way with the feel good factor, but it was far greater than that – it was more how the entire Nation embraced the occasion and turned out it their millions to support all of the events and those competing, from wherever they came. There were no Winners and Losers, as such. True some were more successful than others, winning medals in some cases for their respective achievements, but in the end we were all winners – from those who built the stadia, and those volunteers who turned out in their thousands to greet the millions who turned up to support the competitors everywhere, and finally to those who actually competed.

Those from abroad, whether they were here to cheer or compete, were all welcomed with equal open arms and invited to join in the party. Maybe our own boys and girls received more of the cheers, but they weren't just reserved for our own – everyone who came, we hope was warmed and more importantly perhaps, when they eventually left, did so thankful that they had accepted our invitation to come, cheered by the reception they had received, and with a resolve to maybe someday return.

Oh that the rest of the year could have been so GOOD, but alas, the Bad and the Ugly, only temporarily succumbed. And what are the latter, we can hear the collective chorus - well they're not too difficult to spot.

The Banks of course are the worst of the Ugly guys – after having sent the World's economies into free fall, wrecking in the process not only individual Nations' economies but also most people's domestic financial cushion, they exacerbated the situation by then deciding that to make themselves a Few Dollars More, they would distort and rig, the interest rates that we all had to pay them for any monies they 'generously' allowed us to borrow.

And then, to cap it all, they paid themselves huge bonuses for the vast profits that they then inevitably made from the money that the tax payers had to pay them, to bail them out of the economic mess that they had caused in the first place!

It's a funny old world! Thankfully, it seems, something is at last being done to bring them to heal, and even make them clean up their acts – but sadly possibly all a little too little, too late!

The Bad guys weren't too difficult to spot either – if it wasn't the media listening in on people's conversations and manipulating stories, so that they could hopefully sell more newspapers, it was depressingly more revered institutions like the BBC who were exposed as being more of a shambolic mismanaged, multi-layered, hierarchy than the once proud people's communications champion, renowned throughout the world for its impartiality and correctness.

Some heads rolled but regrettably the damage had been done. The fact that the BBC were the prime mover in its' own exposure, was ironically perhaps, to its' credit – the warts may have been swept previously under the carpet but the BBC was still big enough to bring them out eventually. CAPNews doubts that there would be many other institutions in the world, that would have done the same.

One particularly Good thing that came out from the darker Bad side was that after some 23 years, the true account of what really happened at Hillsborough finally came out. Despite for many years the people, who had suffered and indeed the relatives of many of those who had died on that fateful night, having been saying constantly that they were the victims of the carnage due to serious mismanagement by the police and ground security staff, they had always been cruelly and malignly portrayed as having been the cause of their fate, by their own ill controlled behaviour.

After a lengthy inquiry, it was finally reported that the main cause of the crush was because the police and ground staff had failed to properly control the crowd and had allowed too many people into the enclosure that finally collapsed. Although police negligence was found to be one of the major factors, that fact was always hidden from the press reports – and indeed from earlier enquiries, when it was discovered that a very large number of police reports of the incident taken on the day, were subsequently deliberately – and indeed criminally – altered, to deflect the culpability away from the police.

Conversely, the fans were completely exonerated of any responsibility for what ultimately happened, and indeed were roundly praised for their conduct and behaviour. Hopefully now, some comfort can be found for those who have been grieving for so long, for their loved ones who were lost or severely injured.

Bereavement sadly is something that we all at times suffer, and for exCAPers,  as the years mount up since those halcyon days, the same is true. As regular visitors to the CAP web site will see, we try to maintain an obituaries page to record the deaths of those friends with whom we once worked, and last year was no exception. While inevitably sadly, there will always be some names which we miss, if we do get to hear of someone's demise, we will endeavour to make an entry and record a tribute.

Last year we sadly lost two of our more prominent exCAPers, namely Barney Gibbens, who had been the last surviving member of the original gang of three (along with Alex d'Agapeyeff and Harry Baecker) who founded the company, and Big John Ritchie, who, as well as being a Director in the Group, had also been for many years, the Managing Director of CAP/Sema Reading. Both are sadly missed, and CAPNews extends its' deepest condolences to each of their families, and indeed to the friends and relatives of all those who also passed away over the past year.

With all the doom and gloom, this editorial cannot be closed without reporting on one very much happier occasion which happened around the middle of the year, when over two hundred exCAPers assembled on the Thames Embankment, for yet another CAP ReUnion – this time CAP50, to commemorate, the fiftieth anniversary of the company's founding.

It took place on the HMS President, which is permanently moored just up from Temple tube station, on June 30th., during thankfully, one of the few periods when the weather relented. It wasn't exactly a scorching hot summer's day, but at least the rain held off and the temperature allowed for reasonably light dress.

In true CAP tradition, a very healthy amount of alcohol was consumed, soaked up by a barbecue style buffet meal, which seemed to satisfy most palates. Nostalgia flowed almost as much as the beer, as old friends became once again acquainted and past times and memories were reminisced. It is always quite amazing how, after perhaps twenty years, people change so little. True the waists are more than a tad enlarged, while thinner and greyer hair abounds, but despite the increased number of wrinkles, people are still virtually instantly recognisable – some even, had hardly changed one iota! Remarkable! And with large printed name tags, recognition and conversation was a breeze!

It was generally agreed that the exercise was worthwhile, with everyone enjoying themselves, and indeed requests for having another one (even) next year were freely bandied around, so everyone went home content. When the next one will be, has yet to be decided – but note, it is not 'if' there will be another, but 'when' so something will undoubtedly happen at some stage – all that we will need to ensure, is that wherever it takes place, there will have to be adequate space put aside for zimmer frames. Certainly CAP55 is very much on the cards!

Mentioning the weather brings us to another thing which fell into the 'bad' category – what a truly dreadful summer! Frankly CAPNews blames the Environmental Minister – no sooner had he declared a hose pipe ban, following possibly one of the driest Springs on record, than it started to rain and, apart from a very welcome a brief respite while the Olympics were on, it has hardly stopped since.

What that has also caused however are floods which are now threatening virtually the entire country, with those in the West Country it seems suffering dreadfully. One can only hope that the waters subside soon – even though in most cases the damage has already been done, the quicker people can begin the moping (and much worse regrettably, the cleaning) up the better. For such a thing to happen at any time is bad enough, but at this time of the year, it somehow seems ten times worse.

Well that's about it. I have waffled on long enough. If Mr Trice was still the web Master he would berate me for going on so long, however I'm sure Mr. Fair will allow me some licence. Many thanks both to Arthur, for carrying the baton so magnificently for so long – given my own total lack of any technical ability whatsoever, without him, we would never have had a web site in the first place – and to Alan, who has now taken over the mantle! (I do like to mix my metaphors!). Already he has put his stamp on the site and I for one thank him most sincerely.

May you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year and 2013.


Read the 2011 missive here