Westie's Christmas Message, 2013

Hi there to all you exCAPers, CAPNews trusts you have had a goodly year, and hopefully your preparations for the coming festive season are going well.

Certainly it is hoped that your lot is finishing higher up the scale of things than seems to be the general pattern. As far as good times go, it has to be said that 2013 has not been a particularly happy year - what with the innumerable natural disasters that have (seemingly) befallen, almost monthly, somewhere in the world during the past twelve months.

Global change is invariably blamed as the primary cause - as if that relieves the human race of any (of its) responsibility - but personally, I believe that much of the chaos can be laid squarely at the people's door.

The irony of course, is how wonderfully people then rise to the occasion, when help is needed by those suffering from the effects of some earthquake, flood or typhoon. Regardless of their own hardships, people (it seem) readily respond to those they perceive to be in greater need than themselves.

A great example recently was the way people came together to support those suffering as a result of the typhoon in the Philippines. In spite of the fact that life can have been far from easy for many people generally, in the fall out from the recent financial crisis, nearly one hundred million pounds was donated by people from the United Kingdom alone - and that was on top of the annual Children In Need appeal, which ran at the same time, for which more than another fifty million was raised.

It is generosity like that which helps thankfully, to redress some of the balances - and hopefully helps to restore some of the faith that we might have for one another.

Not that many of our institutions - from politicians to the judiciary, and bankers to those assigned to look after our health and well being - particularly that of the elderly and the very young - can escape it seems, from some criticism and scorn. It is perhaps, a sad reflection on our present day society, that many of those who in the past we held in high regard - indeed even esteem - seem regularly to be found wanting!

If that is not enough to make you despair, one only has to watch the News at Ten on most evenings, to see what is happening in the world, and to send you off to bed fearing for the worse. Locally, or further a field, man's inhumanity to man is insurmountable, and indeed constantly being exposed. One could almost be forgiven for thinking that abuse (in all its dreadful forms) has almost become the norm!

I guess, amidst all the turmoil and misery, Christmas could not be coming at a more needed time! However hard and difficult things may seem, whatever one's religious feelings and beliefs might (or indeed, might not) be, one would have to be a very sad individual not to be lifted by the forthcoming celebrations. Even if one may have to be paying for it for the next few months(!!) at least over the immediate period, before and during, many of the world - for all its madness! - do seem to (want to) come together!

Indeed, it is people's general desire to want to celebrate, that is the most refreshing, and gives rise to the hope that maybe - despite all the various horrors - salvation, however one chooses to interpret that (and we all have our own understanding) is still attainable!

I apologise that this is turning into something of a tirade - it wasn't meant to be that, although what the message was precisely, it is difficult to say! As readers of this annual address will be all too readily aware, I usually just let the fingers run, and see what comes out! Heaven help us!

However, there is indeed at least the hint of some goodly news (potentially speaking) for those exCAPers among us, who are already drawing their pension. (Further apologies to those of you who are still having to work for a living!) It does seem that thanks to the sterling efforts of the likes of Roger Southgate, Peter Weston, Peter Alsbury, Godfrey Thomas and Steve McCarthy - to name and thank, but a few - some progress does appear to be being made slowly, in persuading those responsible for the Atos Origin Pension Scheme to reconsider their earlier decision to put a cap on pre-1997 pensions.

You can find more detailed information on the subject elsewhere on this web site, but in essence it seems that while there is at present no actual agreement to revert the decision, at least discussions are now being held on the matter - and reading between the lines perhaps - there is at least, it seems, some sympathy for the cause. Who knows maybe, by this time next year, a more favourable conclusion may have been arrived at!

Anyway, that's about it for this year. Sorry if my mood has been a tad moribund - maybe I should have had another couple of whiskies before I started, that might have brightened me up! Certainly you can lay some of the blame down to our appalling efforts in the cricket down under - they went there with such high expectations, but have been blown away!

The only thing I can say to cheer myself up, was that I had at one time intended going down there to offer them my support - no, not as part of the Barmy Army, but to have bathed in, what I had hoped would have been, the reflected glory of a resounding win! At least I have saved both my embarrassment as well as, more importantly perhaps, my bank balance!

I trust that all of your respective celebrations go as you would have wished - and you have a joyful Christmas day and a hearty and merry New Years Day, followed by a happy and healthy 2014.

It would be nice to dream that our gallant footballers might win the World Cup in 2014, but that is probably asking for too much. However if they could at least give a reasonable performance for a change, it would be something. The old adage that it is not necessarily the winning, but rather the taking part, that matters, does still have some value - especially if the endeavour matches up to all the aspirations! While naturally, there is (hopefully, gracious) glory in victory, defeat doesn't have to result in dishonour - if one can be seen to have given one's all in the attempt!

Finally, one small request. While Alan Fair does a grand job in maintaining this CAP web site - for which he has of course my heartfelt thanks - the hardest part sometimes is finding suitable material. So if anybody has something that they feel others might appreciate hearing about - it doesn't have to be very high tech., indeed as far as I personally am concerned, the simpler the better! - then why not drop Alan a note/email. He will, most certainly, appreciate your support as I am sure, will your fellow exCAPers.

I am of the old fashioned school, where Christmases should preferably be white, and despite the somewhat balmy weather that we are currently enjoying, the forecast this evening predicted that the snows may well be on their way. So here's hoping - and to heck with the inevitable chaos on the roads and railways that even the slightest flurries will bring! It's time to get those tea trays and sledges out - tally-ho and weeeeeeeeeeeee !!

I hope you all have a great time and your turkeys are done to a turn!

All the best for now

A slightly dis-allusioned, but still eternally optimistic

Westie

Read the 2012 missive here