Sunday, 9 December 2018

Britain is a country and no country for old men like Patrick Stewart, once the sons of violent fathers

Patrick Stewart, who is 78, an actor whose work has included roles on stage, television and film in a career spanning almost six decades, was born in the summer of 1940 and the second year of the Second World War. Raised in Mirfield in the West Riding of Yorkshire, he was the third son of Gladys, a weaver and textile worker and Alfred, who had worked as a general labourer and as a postman before he joined the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and when War broke out in 1939, became a Regimental Sergeant Major of the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment.

For the first five years of his life, while his father was away from home on active service in the War Patrick fondly remembers his childhood with a mother who indulged him. It was not to last and in 1945, he witnessed, his father, who had returned from the War to wage his own war, throwing things at and beating Patrick's mother.

On weekend nights, he would lie in bed, alert, awaiting his father’s return from the pub, ready for his rage, braced to throw himself between his parents to protect his mother. He kept it all to himself and later said : “For decades, I was silent. I was ashamed and embarrassed – and that embarrassment went all the way back to being seven or eight. At the time, our tightly knit community knew what my father did to my mother – they could hear it – but it was absolutely not talked about. Even with my brothers, we didn’t discuss it. I think we tried to pretend it wasn’t there.”

In 2009 he told a meeting of Amnesty International UK : "I was not a violent child, but if my mother had, at any point,between the ages of 5 and 12, picked up a knife  or any other weapon against my father, I would have held her hand as she did it. I would have locked the door while she carried it out. That's how bad it was to be growing up inside a violent household."

The domestic violence which punctuated his childhood had a lasting effect on him and over the years, certain acting roles brought it to the surface. He said : "My father was a very potent individual, a very powerful man, who got what he wanted. It was said that when he strode onto the parade ground, birds stopped singing. It was many, many years before I realised how my father inserted himself into my work."

He remembers, for example, looking in the mirror before going on stage to play Macbeth :  “I had the uniform, the cap, the AK47, and I’d grown a moustache, although I didn’t know why. Then I saw my father’s face staring straight back at me. I remember feeling that night that I couldn’t give the performance.” Apparently, his father didn't have a moustache.

From the 1980s onward, Patrick began working in American television and film, with prominent leading roles such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in 'Star Trek : The Next Generation'. It was during these years that he lived in California, which is where he discovered therapy. When he recalled : “I began unravelling this and finally acknowledging it had been part of my life. We would do regression therapy.” His eyes filled with tears and his voice faltered : “It would be my mother and father sitting in the room of my childhood home. And I would be given permission to say whatever I wanted to say.”

In a 2006 interview, Patrick made a slight reference to his father’s violence, which was spotted by the CEO of 'Refuge', Sandra Horley, who invited him to speak at a fundraising event at Chequers. He recalled that : “I’d never spoken about it in public and I remember it vividly.” He began with a reading, then said : "Now I’m going to tell you why I’m really here." He is now a patron of the charity and has said : “It’s made me a more contented person – and if there’s a value to others, I’m extremely grateful.”

In 2017 he said :
"Domestic violence is largely a man's problem. You do occasionally hear of violence which is women on men, but it is so rare. It's not a woman's problem, being beaten up in your own home. It's a man's problem. I grew up with it and I heard a policeman say to my bleeding mother one night : "Well Mrs Stuart. You must have provoked him." No, she never provoked him. He was just an angry, unhappy, frustrated and, at the time, drunken individual and what I didn't know until a very few years ago, when I learned it thanks to a television programme on. My father, in 1940, came back from the original invasion of France with a severe case of what was then called 'shell-shock', which we now know as PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder and he would have been never treated - ever treated for it. He would have been told, if anything : "Pull yourself together and be a man." That was the treatment for PTSD in those days. "Come on you're a soldier. Act like a soldier." Not realising what a damaging and disastrous psychological transformation that can be and my father was never treated, ever in his life for it. He died with it, PTSD. He never talked about it. I didn't know he'd been shell-shocked. I don't think even his wife knew that he'd been shell-shocked, but I've been told his behaviour were classical symptoms of PTSD which went untreated. So now I work for an organisation called 'Combat Stress', which helps veterans and there are so many of them."

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Britain in 2018 is a country where old men with previously undiagnosed prostate cancer said "Thank You" to Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull

The 61 year old comedian, actor and writer, Stephen Fry and presenter and 62 year old, Bill Turnbull, BBC TV and Radio presenter are together the two poster boys for to prostate cancer, a condition confined to men and usually old men at that.

It's the most common cancer in men in Britain where an ageing population means more old men are developing and dying from the disease with 40,000 new cases diagnosed and around 11,000 men dieing from it each year. It can develop slowly over years and many men have no symptoms, but noticeable symptoms include needing to urinate more often and a weak flow of urine.

Stephen recorded his experience on You Tube in February and took his audience through the process he had been through of diagnosis, treatment and recovery, during the course of which he described his cancer as "an aggressive little bugger". He also said : "Here's hoping I've got another few years left on this planet because I enjoy life at the moment and that's a marvellous thing to be able to say, and I'd rather it didn't go away."

He said : "I went around saying to myself, 'I've got cancer. Good heavens, Stephen, you're not the sort of person who gets cancer. I know it's an old cliche but you don't think it's going to happen to you." He urged men to get their PSA [prostate specific antigen] levels checked with a doctor : "I generally felt my life was saved by this early intervention, so I would urge any of you men of a certain age to get your PSA levels checked."

Bill Turnbull also urged men to get checked for prostate cancer, when he disclosed he had been diagnosed with the disease after suffering aches and pains he put down to simple “old age”. His condition is clearly worse than Stephen's and he said that he would not be cured the cancer, which had spread to his bone in the legs, hips, pelvis and ribs and he couldn't plan "beyond 12 years.” Like Stephen, he was motivated to speak out : “If one man gets tested who might not otherwise have gone to their doctor, it’s worthwhile.”

Ironically, the success of Stephen and Bill, with more men receiving early diagnosis has meant that GP referrals for cancer 'across the board' have fallen below the 93% prompt referral standard, with more people not being seen as quickly as they should. The former Director of 'National Cancer', Sir Mike Richards said : “It is particularly down to referrals for possible prostate cancer increasing – almost certainly in response to the Bill Turnbull and Stephen Fry effect.”

Like Stephen and Bill, I too was living with undiagnosed prostate cancer and have also had my prostate and attendant lymph nodes removed. In my case, however, the discovery that I had prostate cancer came about as a result of the biopsy on my prostate after it was removed at the same time as my bladder. This was a precautionary measure in case any of the bad guys in my bladder had decided to migrate to the prostate next door. They hadn't. The bad guys in my prostate were not related to those in my bladder.
Like Stephen and Bill I have urged all my male friends and relations of a certain age to get their PSA level checked and be vigilant of the tell tale signs of the enemy below.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old folk singer-cum-university professor called Roy Bailey

Roy was born in the Autumn of 1935 in poverty-stricken Bow, in the East End of London, the son of single mother, Anne Smith and was brought, up a cockney lad, with the help of her family, at first in Bow and later in Ilford, Essex. When Roy was five in the second year of the Second World War in 1940, Anne married John Bailey, a Manchester-born bookmaker and Roy took his name and three years later he had the company of his new half-brother, Ron.

When Roy was nine the family had the trauma of finding their home had been destroyed by a German V2 bomb when they returned after an air raid and were evacuated to the safer to Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Despite the fact that he was clearly a bright lad, he left his secondary modern boys school in 1950 without qualifications. He later recalled : "My political education began in earnest when as a 16 year old I met three young socialist students, one English, one Iraqi and one Thai, at a Further Education College in Southend. I'd left school having failed the 11+ exams, but with the encouragement of my parents I went to the local Tech to do "O" level GCE's."

Called up for his two National Service, when he was 18 in 1953, he served for two years in the RAF and it was at this point that his interest in popular music started and while he enjoyed his share of Frank Sinatra's "Songs For Swinging Lovers", it was the immediacy of skiffle and the music of the American group 'The Weavers' that made most impact on him emotionally and intellectually. He later recalled their music : "related to me in terms of class. I began to view the world in terms of class rather than geography in my late teens and early twenties." 

Roy was 21 when the British invasion of Egypt took place in 1956 and later recalled : "My Iraqi friend's stories of family and friends, of Arab struggles against imperial England and the western economies generally, meant I resisted the definitions of Arab people presented by the British propaganda machine. I felt an affinity with ordinary people whether from 'the west', from the middle east or from Asia. These early experiences and friendships helped me to view the world less as a number of nations and more as ordinary people trying to make ends meet, to grow, to raise a family, to educate their kids and to care for their parents." 

Roy began his part-time musical career when he joined a skiffle band at the age of 23 in 1958. and two years later he was working for the American 'National Cash Register Company' when he took himself off to Leicester University as a 'mature' sociology undergraduate. It was as a student that he helped form the university folk club and in his spare-time he journeyed south to perform in the folk clubs in Southampton and Portsmouth with his repertoire of the US-based folk and skiffle popular and then found his voice in folk music as a popular expression of political and social dissent and influenced by by the likes of Ewan MacColl and with his encouragement became the musical voice of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

CND had a profound effect on him and his music : "I was caught up in that even if only as an observer and occasional participant. Songs and politics came together. The emergence of what was known as the folk revival was a musical and political movement of incredible creativity and depth." 

In addition, his political education continued and he later said : "When I finally went to University at the age of twenty-five I was attracted to the world of Karl Marx and the writings of his supporters and critics. For me class is both a social and an economic category." He became convinced that folk music could become a powerful vehicle for contemporary social criticism. His conviction that it was our duty to denunciation war, political repression, injustice and the impoverishment of working people and minorities and which would stay with him for the rest of his life, were formed in these years.

Having graduated in 1963, he was appointed an assistant lecturer in Sociology at Enfield College of Technology in North London, it was the year in which he married Val Turbard who he'd met in 1960 and who often sang with him. The following year he "met Leon Rosselson and began to hear new songs written about my world, of an urban culture. Leon invited me to join his group 'The Three City Four'. I was about to move to London to teach in an FE College in Enfield, so I readily agreed." 

In fact, as Roy later said : "My academic career enabled me to avoid the economic problems that went with trying to make a living from a decidedly minority musical interest and freed me to follow whatever musical pathway I wanted. Fortunately, I discovered there are people out there (quite a lot in fact) who have a similar interest as far as folk songs are concerned."

"I was attracted to songs about justice, peace, equality, work and play by, what I viewed as 'ordinary people', wherever they came from, regardless of nations. I have a lot of sympathy, now, for that resistance; the Folk Revival was seen by many was an indigenous stand to encourage and remind us that we had our own traditional music and song and we should not allow it to be swamped by the music of the USA." 

At the same time, over the next 8 years he shaped and led, what became one of the best non-university sociology departments in the country. He had a particular interest in deviance and criminology and was instrumental in setting up of the 'National Deviancy Conference' which met in York in 1968 and then intermittently in the 1970s.

Roy joined the two-year old Sheffield Polytechnic in 1971 where he later went on to play a major role as Dean of the Faculty of Education, Health and Welfare. In the same year, his 36th, he released his first solo album, simply entitled 'Roy Bailey'. It would be first of 20 more, eventually released on his own 'Fuse' label.

While on the academic front, in his 1975 book with Mike Brake, 'Radical Social Work and Practice', he encouraged students in the discipline to think critically and understand the social and economic context of the social problems they addressed.

It was in 1975 that he collaborated with Leon Rosselson on 'That's Not The Way It's Got To Be' and 'The World Turned Upside Down' was inspired by the Diggers, a 17th century radical group thrown up in the trauma of the English Civil War, who briefly farmed land they held 'in common' at St. George's Hill in Surrey, which they were forced to abandon in 1649 after opposition for the local gentry.

In 1976 he released his ten-track album, 'New Bell Wake' with his 'John Barleycorn', 'The Wymondham Fight', 'Beggar Man' and 'Fair's Fair' and in the following year teamed up with Leon Rosselson to produce 'Love, Loneliness, Laundry.'

It was in the 70's that, as his reputation spread to Europe, he sang in Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands and during the 80s, became more widely known in North America, particularly on the West Coast of the US and Canada and was a regular feature at the Vancouver Folk Festival, where he met and performed with both Pete Seeger and Billy Bragg. On other occasions he worked with Paul Simon and Tom Paxton. On the other side of the world he performed at folk festivals in Australia in folk festivals in clubs from Sydney to Perth.

1982 brought 'Hard Times' with its 'War Without Bangs' and 'We Will Fight, We Will Win' and three years later came his 11 track '....Freedom Peacefully'. He released his 'Leaves From a Tree' album with 'Nottingham Captain', 'Daughters of the Revolution' and 'Song of the Exile' in 1988.

Roy was appointed Professor in 1989 and Professor Emeritus following his semi-retirement at the age of 55 the following year, having opted to work for another 5 years at Northern College, at Wentworth Castle, near Barnsley, which he had helped to set up in 1978. It was during this period that he produced, in 1994, 'Business as Usual' with its 'Tolpuddle Man', 'Only a Pawn in Their Game' and 'Sreets of Sarajevo'.

His association with the left-wing Labour MP, Tony Benn began in 1976 and they performed as an unlikely folk duo, playing in working men’s clubs and in 1990, first presented 'The Writing on the Wall', a showcase of the history of British dissent, with Tony providing the historical narrative and Roy the songs. They continued to work together and performed to 9,000 at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2000 and in 2003, two years after Tony had stood down as a MP, their show was named 'Best Live Act' in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Ceremony. In 2010, they were together at the Beverley Folk Festival :

Roy said : "I shall be forever grateful and proud of my relationship with Tony Benn. He is a remarkable man - gentle and generous - his knowledge and experience are quite daunting. It is an immense privilege for me to share a stage with him and to think of him as a friend."

In 1993 he formed the 'Band of Hope', a group of traditional English folk musicians that also included Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Dave Swarbrick and Steafan Hannigan, and together they recorded the CD 'Rhythm and Reds' the following year.

In retirement, at the age of 62 in 1997, came 'New Directions in the Old' and then in 2000, 'Coda' with 'Tom Paine's Bones', 'On the Road to Freedom' and 'Captain Swing'. 'Sit Down and Sing.' The following year he played a concert at the Royal Albert Hall when, among other things, he taught the audience to sign the words of a song he was performing, gradually removing the words entirely until the song finished in complete silence with the whole audience using sign language.

In 2005 , in  collaboration with Martin Simpson and John Kirkpatrick produced 'Sit Down and Sing' with its 'Labouring Man', 'Miners Lullaby' and 'Sheffield Grinder'.

It was in keeping with his principles that, having been appointed an MBE for 'Services to Folk Music' n 2000, he should return the award in 2006 in protest against the British Government's support of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

He was in his mid 70's when he produced 'Below the Radar' with its 'Old Man's Tale' and 'Visions of Our Youth' and finally 'Tomorrow' in 2010 which ended with 'Tomorrow Lies in the Cradle'.

Roy once said :
"Songs are a source of entertainment and enjoyment, a source of happiness. Art is often regarded as a realm outside the concerns of everyday life; an escape from the worries and the dilemmas of ‘making ends meet’. Songs, however, are not neutral. They either confirm or subvert. To claim neutrality, in almost any sphere of life, is to affirm the status quo. To be neutral is to abandon the issues and leave them firmly in the hands of the powerful and the privileged."

Friday, 16 November 2018

Britain is a country which needs an old caricaturist called Roger Law and a TV show called 'Spitting Image'

The 77 year old Roger Law, the co-creator of 'Spitting Image', the satirical puppet show broadcast on ITV from 1984 to 1996, with a peak audience of 12 million, has said the that now would be a good time for 'Spitting Image' to return, but not in Britain :  “I’ve got about 10 or 15 years if I’m lucky. Do I want to spend it repeating Spitting Image as it was? "No". I want to be somewhere you can do what you want, and that would be on the net or pay-for-view. I don’t need some halfwit at ITV or the BBC telling us what you can or can’t do. I’m too old.”

Having said that, he is prepared to admit that if money from Netflix, for example, were on the table for a US version, scripted by Americans, but made in Britain, he would consider the revival. He said : “Now it’s so extreme, what’s going on. What am I going to do for the last bit of my life? And I love to work, it wouldn’t be a waste of time. We never really did it successfully in America. We did it and blew it for all sorts of reasons. It would be very interesting.” In fact, Roger's puppet of President Trump has already been created.

Roger, who created the show with Peter Fluck, said he was pleased the people (who were probably in their 20s and 30s in the 1980s), had fond memories of the episodes, but that it had had misses as well as hits : “I remember some of it being really quite good. Most of it wasn’t and it’s the same for the people that watched it. They’ve telescoped that 13 years down to "what will the vegetables have?" It’s jolly boring of them. But in a way it’s quite good. Unless I’m foolish enough to do it again, they have a very pleasant memory of Spitting Image.”

Those pleasant memories may or may not have included the sketches of the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbit opening the mail full of letter bombs; the Labour leader, Michael Foot, as the alien from ET reaching out with his long bony finger and saying : “Look, if you kids don’t push off I’ll … I’ll … and let me add … er … of course … erm” and an undeniably racist sketch about Japanese people, where all the characters looked the same. Roger said that sketch was 'of its time' and “It is only in retrospect that you realise it was a pretty fucking obscene thing to do.” He admits they got away with a lot and ITV "had all these worries about this" but were complicit because : "Once we had an audience and all those car ads and lager ads and god knows what, we could pretty much do what we wanted”.

Roger is donating his archive of scripts and drawings and a puppet of Mrs Thatcher to Cambridge University Library, including the 'Spitting Image' pilot of 1983 entitled 'The Late Latex Show' which featured Mrs Thatcher and Norman Tebbit eating his own children and based on the fiction that Mrs Thatcher had suggested that the unemployed eat their own bodies. 

It was later reprised as a 'Modest Proposal' - as a nod towards Jonathan Swift's 1729 essay in which he suggested that the impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies.

Despite the fact that Roger has rejected the idea of reviving 'Spitting Image' in Britain he seemed more equivocal when interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 'Today Programme' this week, when he said that he was always being asked to do it, but : "I can hardly be bothered to answer the phone because they never seem to go anywhere. It's in the ether though. You can't have the situation that we have here with this sort of division that you've got and of course America's exactly the same."

Spitting Image 1984 to 1996

Nigel Lawson's Budget :

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

part 6

Part 7

Spitting Image 2018

Surely the political stage in Britain is full of characters which are tailor-made for a new series of 'Spitting Image' : 

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Britain on Remembrance Day is a country and no country for its oldest of old men, Bob Weighton, six years old on the 11th November 1918

Today marks the centenary of the end of the First World War when at 11 o'clock in the morning on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the guns fell silent on the Western Front and the War in Europe was at an end. In the four years of war, Britain had lost 512,000 men dead and had 1,528,500 injured.

Bob Weighton, was born in 1908 and at 110 years, is Britain's oldest man, a title he shares with Alf Smith, from Perth. Born in Hull, he remembers, seeing from his bedroom window, the fires caused by German Zeppelins, airships which could travel at more than 60 mph and carry two tonnes of bombs. Bob, who had seen them as a six year old boy has said : “The appearance of the Zeppelin in the sky was a total surprise. The early ones, we had no defences and no awareness, there were no air-raid wardens.” 

When the sirens went off my mother brought us all down from our attic bedroom and we children crouched under the space under the stairs and sometimes under the heavy oak dining table. I remember our grandma rocking to and fro on her heels as she was kneeling down and moaning : "On God. Oh God" as the bombs appeared to get nearer. My Mother was calm and collected."

As his six years moved through to seven, then eight, nine and ten, he became aware of the toll War was taking : “There were little wooden plaques with the names of soldiers who had been killed which were put up at the street corners and flowers would be left on the pavement outside the house. They got more frequent and there were some little streets with six or eight names of young men who had been killed in France for everyone to see.”

Earlier this year Bob said : "If there’s anything that characterises the present world, it is the recrudescence of tribalism in Brexit, Trump, Putin."

Last year, Bob said that he was a "bit irked" to be celebrating his 109th birthday on the same day Brexit was triggered and although he was "not enamoured" with all of the European Union's decisions and spending, he felt quitting was a "mistake". He said he did not regard Theresa May's signing of Article 50, as "a step forward at all" and joked : "She didn't ring me up to see what my reaction would be." 

He has described himself as "very internationally-minded",  partly because his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are "scattered around Europe" including some in Germany. He said that Britain leaving the EU would be like a divorce : "You can't just walk away and expect it not to have any repercussions. It's not like resigning from a golf club because you don't like the secretary, it's more like a divorce with all of the heartache and recriminations that follow. However, you have to live with the way things are not the way you would like them to be."

He has lived through “times that have been exciting, times when it’s been very scary, times when it’s been the dawn of a new day. At the moment, it’s a total muddle – you’ve got Trump, Putin, and political stalemate in Britain.”

He was not in favour of Brexit, he said :“I have a son who married a Swede, and a daughter who married a German. I flatly refuse to regard my grandchildren as foreigners. I’m an internationalist but I’ve not lost my pride in being a Yorkshireman or British. I’ve lived in a number of countries and I felt I was at one with the people there. You can make as good a friend with a German or an Argentinian or a South African as you can with the man next door.”
Bob took 'A Level' German at the age of 70 and keeps two small flags, German and Swedish, on his mantelpiece – a nod to his international extended family.

As a teenager he joined the Peace Movement, a cause he still holds dear and has said :

"I don't think you should cease to be what you were born into and I'm just as proud now of being a Yorkshireman, as I ever was. I come from Yorkshire. I was born in Hull. But I think my horizons have expanded to an extent to which I hadn't dreamt they would do so. Although I did travel, the most valuable experience is not the actual travel; it's living in a community which is not the same as what you were born into; to include in my friendships people of totally different nationality, language and social structures."

"But my experience is that although you recognise differences, you have to do that to be realistic, it's no hypothetical matter. But in the end I find it possible to have the same set of human relationships with everybody else, different though they may be and you've got to find a way of living together constructively. You have to live together in some way and you have to give and take and reach a reasonable conclusion. You can't live in a world where everything is perfect from your point of view and destructive of somebody else's. But, if you want to know what I feel is the outcome of all my experiences I would say that sums it up better than anything else." 
"I've got to say it's far better to make a friend out of a possible enemy than it is to make an enemy out of a possible friend."

Friday, 9 November 2018

Britain is no country for the minting of coins to a celebrate the life of an old and beloved writer of children's books called Roald Dahl

A limited edition of 8 million £2 Charles Dickens coins, were created in 2012, in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the author’s birth, They featured a portrait of Dickens, which is made up of a compilation of the titles of some of his famous works. The inscription on its edge read: 'Something will turn up', which refers to a quotation from Mr Micawber in the Dickens’ favourite novel, 'David Copperfield'.

Now the Guardian has revealed that plans to celebrate the life of Roald Dahl in 2016 were rejected by the Royal Mail. Born in 1916, he died in 1990 and was a novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter and fighter pilot who lived to see his books sell more than 250 million copies around the world. Apparentley, the Royal Mint dropped proposals to issue a coin to mark the centenary of his birth because he was 'associated with antisemitism and not regarded as an author of the highest reputation.' 
The decision was made in a Royal Mint Sub-Committee meeting held in 2014, where the company, instead, opted for coins commemorating William Shakespeare and Beatrix Potter and was made despite the Royal Mail honouring the children’s author with a set of commemorative stamps celebrating his books, with  'Matilda', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'The BFG' adapted for films.

The evidence against him rested on the fact that :

* in 1983, against a backdrop of widespread criticism over Israel’s invasion of Lebanon a year earlier, he told the New Statesman : “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason."

* in an interview with 'The Independent' in 1990 and just months before his death, he described himself as 'antisemitic' and railed against the “Jewish-owned” media. He told the paper : “It began in 1982 when the Israelis invaded Lebanon. They killed 22,000 civilians when they bombed Beirut. It was very much hushed up in the newspapers because they are primarily Jewish-owned. I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become antisemitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism. I think they should see both sides. It’s the same old thing: we all know about Jews and the rest of it. There aren’t any non-Jewish publishers anywhere, they control the media – jolly clever thing to do – that’s why the president of the United States has to sell all this stuff to Israel.”

Amanda Bowman, the Vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, when told, praised the Royal Mint’s decision and said : “The Royal Mint was absolutely correct to reject the idea of a commemorative coin for Roald Dahl, Many of his utterances were unambiguously antisemitic. He may have been a great children’s writer, but he was also a racist and this should be remembered.”

Wes Streeting, Labour MP and Co-Chair of the 'All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews' said : “Roald Dahl’s children’s stories were my favourite books growing up and they will always occupy a special place in my heart. There’s certainly no reason why future generations of children shouldn’t continue to enjoy those stories. But I think it’s absolutely clear that the Royal Mint made the right decision because there is just no excusing or explaining away Roald Dahl’s comments and his views, which were antisemitic. It is as simple as that. This isn’t borderline antisemitism. This is classic, undeniable, blatant antisemitism. I think when it comes to celebrating individuals, these factors ought to be taken into account. In some ways, for those of us who have never really known this side of Roald’s character, it’s quite upsetting actually.”

Last year, comedian  said he was refusing to celebrate 'Roald Dahl Day' because of the author’s views and tweeted Dahl’s : 'Though a massive fan of his work, I won’t be celebrating #RoaldDahlDay'.