Gdansk 1781

Writing about your personal demons for the public is seldom a good idea, and it is a particularly bad idea when you are starting at 3.40am as they are haunting you. We are spending Hogmanay in the beautiful city of Gdansk. It is my first time here for over twenty years, but the city has remarkable memories for me.

In November 1994 I was newly arrived as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw when a fatal fire occurred at the famous shipyard, in a hall being used for a rock concert tied in to a MTV transmission. The fire doors were all padlocked shut, and the heat had reached such intensity that a flash fire had occurred right across the hall. Miraculously only five people had died immediately, but hundreds had been horrifically burnt or suffered fume inhalation and the hospitals were completely overwhelmed.

Within hours of the fire I was dispatched to Gdansk by our dynamic Ambassador and found myself on a train heading North with only a Motorola mobile phone the size of a large brick (1994) and a phone number for DFID, in those days a part of the FCO and known as ODA. I roused from his London bed the official in charge of emergency assistance, Mukesh Kapila, and he instructed me to get a list from the medical authorities of all the supplies required. He explained that major burns required large volumes of consumables by way of ointments and special gauzes and bandages.

Arriving in Gdansk I very soon discovered that the victims were dispersed round several hospitals and there was no central authority able to produce a list of requirements. Poland was still in the early stages of a shock transition from communism and elements of administration were shaky at the best of times, let alone in a large scale emergency. The only way to make any progress was for me physically to go to every hospital and every concerned ward, buttonhole the doctors there and ask them what they needed.

To say they were swamped would be ridiculous understatement. Victims were everywhere, very many critical, and in some places bleary-eyed doctors literally had nothing – creams, bandages, painkillers, saline drips all exhausted. Meeting many doctors, when I told them I could get anything sent out instantly, the reaction ranged from angrily incredulous to massive bear hugs.

It was of course difficult. In 1994 Polish medical practice differed quite sharply from British. There were language barriers; my as yet basic Polish lacked medical vocabulary. And I had to keep interrupting incredibly busy people. But after the first couple of hospitals I was able to extrapolate and phone through to Mukesh the most obviously urgent items, and by the end of the day I was clutching 16 handwritten lists and could sit down to consolidate them.

But I have not described to you what it was like to go round those wards. I really cannot – it was indescribable. Horribly disfigured people screaming and writhing in pain, begging and pleading for any relief, even asking to die. And the worst thing is, they were all teenagers – the average age seemed about 16. One image I shall never forget was of a girl sitting bolt upright in bed, looking calm, and I recall thinking that at least this one is OK. But I had seen her right profile and as I passed her, the left side of her face was literally skeletal, with a yellow blob for an eye, no skin and just the odd sinew attached to the bone. Her calm was catatonic.

But in a way still worse were two girls who looked perfectly healthy, lying on top of their beds apparently in an untroubled sleep. The doctor told me that they were already brain dead, having inhaled cyanide gas from the combustion of plastic seating. The mother of one of them was there and she pleaded with me to tell the doctor not to turn off the ventilator; the poor woman was crazed with grief and pulling at her hair, which was dyed red. I can still recall every detail of the faces of both mother and her still daughter.

I called in every day for a week or so and sat with the mother a few minutes, in silence. Then one day they were gone; the doctors had switched off the ventilator.

Andrze Kanthak, our Honorary Consul, was a fantastic support and worked extremely hard throughout this period – but as we walked together into the first ward, Andrze simply fainted straight out at the sight of it all. That evening we had hardly finished consolidating my 16 lists and sending them off to Mukesh when news arrived that the first shipment of most urgent supplies was arriving at Gdansk airport, and we dashed off there with a lorry from the City Council.

It was a bitter disappointment. Customs refused to release the medicines until duty had been paid and, still worse, everything would need to be checked and certified by the food and drug administration, which could take weeks. All my fury at the self-satisfied officials was of no avail, and we returned temporarily baffled.

A phone call now came that DFID had chartered a flight to arrive the next day with 20 tons of medical supplies, so the situation was now critical. Walesa was now President and I suggested we contact his office, but Andrze advised we should rather recruit Father Jankowski.

Jankowski was the parish priest in Gdansk who had been integral to the Solidarnosc movement, and at that time he wielded enormous political influence. His home was extraordinary for a parish priest – literally palatial – and when I met him there the next day he readily agreed to help. He came to the airport with us as the chartered cargo flight arrived, and supervised the loading into the council lorries which I dispatched to the various hospitals. A tall imposing figure in a flowing black cassock, the customs officials who had blocked us obeyed him without question.

Things calmed down over the next few days, Mukesh Kapila himself came out, and the hospitals once supplied performed brilliantly. Astonishingly, from hundreds of cases of severe and extensive burns, with scores in intensive care, we lost nobody except the two girls who were already brain dead, bringing the final death toll to seven. The incredible survival rate was viewed as a miracle, and perhaps it was, but it was a miracle assisted by some fantastic doctors, by Mukesh Kapila and his staff, by Father Jankowski, by Andrze Kanthak and by the Secretary of Gdansk Council whose name (Janowski?) has slipped my mind, embarrassingly as the experience made us firm friends for a long while.

But I am afraid to say the personal impact on me was quite severe. It is no secret that I struggle against bipolar disorder, and the sheer horror of those days in the wards undoubtedly triggered me for quite a while. I also suffered recurrent nightmares for more than a decade, about the horrific burns but also about the brain dead child and the mother tearing her hair. Worse than the nightmares were the waking flashbacks, not so much visual as emotional, experiencing the feeling of it happening again.

When I got back to the Embassy nobody was very interested in what I had been doing. I was ticked off for returning a day late and also for not obtaining much media publicity for the UK’s role. I have written before that one of my frequent duties in Poland was to conduct high profile visitors around the concentration camps, a visit all British politicians wish to make. Those places filled me with horror, which resonated on the same emotional frequency as the Gdansk trauma. Those frequent visits made my time in Poland difficult to me, which is a shame as it is a delightful country and people.

Back here now as a tourist, with my family and at a festive time, no troubling memories are assailing me. I find I can now be proud of what we did, rather than ashamed at my emotional reaction afterwards. And I can’t quite tell you why, but I felt it should be recorded.

Finally, it is worth noting that this Gdansk experience was one of a number which led me immediately to understand that the famous BBC report on “Saving Syria’s Children” was faked. The alleged footage of burns victims in hospital following a napalm attack bears no resemblance whatsoever to how victims, doctors and relatives actually behave in these circumstances.


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1,781 thoughts on “Gdansk

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  • Goose

    Think that were I Craig, I’d be stressed out too.

    Not that he should be, but Craig deals with topics that the MSM simply won’t touch anymore. The whole idea of a free press holding power to account has become a sick joke in the UK, and the US led the way with its billionaire owned corporate media. billionaires with fingers in so many pies(including defence contracts) their media outlets can’t possibly be truly editorially independent. Formerly great newspapers have been hollowed out, and investigative journalism is almost taboo, in TV and print. And it’s no joke when the state decides who carries out oversight and marks its own homework; stacking committees with unquestioning toadies to avoid awkward questions. MPs seem unconcerned, or too dim-witted to to ask searching questions and it’s left to people like Craig to bravely ask the questions literally millions of citizens are asking.

    Happy New Year!

  • N_

    And oh look, the arrested man is black. Leftwingers need to realise the effect that these stories have on the mainstream popular mind.

    According to the Sun, “THE man suspected of stabbing a police officer and two revellers in a New Year’s Eve bloodbath in Manchester shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he was arrested last night. Snapchat footage from outside Victoria station show the man screaming the phrase – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – as he was bundled into a police van.

    I’ve watched the video that the Sun publish together with their report. I couldn’t hear those words. Can anyone else hear them?

  • Clive P

    A happy New year to all and especially to Craig. Let’s hope 2019 is good in everyone’s personal and family life because in the wider public/political sphere it seems certain to be awful.

  • Dave

    Your terrible story also reveals the truth about the Hillsborough disaster and cover-up!

    Thatcher was ultimately responsible as the disaster was due to government policy, but police and fans blaming each other was part of the prolonged cover-up to avoid Thatcher, or more precisely the “anti-racist establishment” getting the blame – and the belated revelations about the police doesn’t alter that!

    The actual cause of the disaster was the fence, which blocked the fire-exit. Whatever the police or fans did, wouldn’t have led to disaster without the fence, as fans would have just spilled onto the pitch. Blocking a fire-exit can result in manslaughter charges against those responsible, so who was responsible for erecting the concentration camp style fences?

    Well all officialdom would be culpable, as the fence broke elementary health and safety guidelines, but I think it would have had to be signed off by a government Minister, and was as part of their “anti-hooliganism” policy!

    Following the disaster all fences had to be removed from football grounds, but the role of the fence was not part of the enquiry, hence those responsible for the fence were not named, but a long bitter public distraction between police and fans ensued.

    • Paul Greenwood

      South Yorkshire Police had been very helpful during the Miners Strike and had chips to call in. Plus, Norman Bettinson probably had excellent contacts with Stella Rimmington through Hugh Orde.

    • Spencer Eagle

      The Grenfell fire will pan out the same way. Not until those connected to the tragedy are retired, no longer seeking other employment and their pensions secure will the whistle be blown. It’s very likely more than 72 perished, the real cause of the fire will be revealed and the cladding won’t be the reason the fire spread so quickly.

      • Clark

        The cladding was at least highly contributory. A friend of mine worked as a quantity surveyor in construction and an assessor in building insurance for decades. After the Grenfell fire he looked for the tenders for cladding, and found they were still public, on the council’s website. The contractors had offered fire resistant cladding as their primary recommendation, but the council had chosen a secondary quote for flammable cladding which was a little cheaper.

        • bj

          The contractors had offered fire resistant cladding as their primary recommendation, but the council had chosen a secondary quote for flammable cladding which was a little cheaper

          It’s an analogy for how humanity is treating anthropogenic climate change.

        • Spencer Eagle

          The cladding installed at Grenfell was ‘fire resistant’, you can’t install ‘flammable’ cladding on buildings of that type, period. Granted, better spec cladding was available, but the exact same cladding used at Grenfell has performed perfectly OK in numerous other building fires in the UK. Grenfell had the right ingredients for an incredibly fast burning disaster, not because of its design or specification, but because it was seriously over occupied. There were anywhere between five and ten times the number of people living there than should have been. With over occupancy comes an excess of highly flammable possessions such as mattresses, additionally London fire brigade had for many years been publicly and vocally dealing with the scourge of illegal multi-occupancy, fires started by the use of improper, ad hoc and dangerous cooking appliances.

          • Ort

            Yes, this is the tone that official inquiries on these catastrophes typically take: obliquely blaming faceless and unidentifiable administrators and bureaucrats for not enforcing all of the sensible rules, and even more obliquely blaming the victims for contributing to the catastrophic conditions.

            Oh, and it’s never the overclass-serving authorities kicking all this dust down upon the apparatchiks and residents; it’s always Science itself, in all its awful, majestic authority, impartially meeting out this verdict.

          • Clark

            “you can’t install ‘flammable’ cladding on buildings of that type, period”

            Well it looked pretty fucking flammable to me.

          • pete

            The cladding on Grenfell Tower was not fire resistant, did you not see the pictures of the fire? How could any rational human being call that rate of flammability anything short of incendiary.

          • Blunderbuss

            “The cladding installed at Grenfell was ‘fire resistant’”

            I think it was fire-resistant in the laboratory but not in the outside world.

          • Clark

            Pete and Blunderbuss, I expect that “fire resistant” is a Product Description, rather like “Greek yoghurt” means a set yoghurt, but not necessarily from Greece. It’s a legal thing. The cladding will have to have passed some very specific test to be sold as “fire resistant”, such as: it didn’t ignite when exposed to a flame of specified size and temperature for a specified time – though it may burn like fuck once you get enough of it going. There will be other classifications with their own tests; maybe “fire retardant” and others; Product Descriptions mean next to nothing unless you look up the specification. Capitalist doublespeak; we’re drowning in it.

          • Jo1

            Shame on you for denying what we actually saw before our eyes when that building went up!

          • MaryPau!

            I have read all the technical accounts. The prime reason for the fire was because an “illegal” vacuum had been left between the cladding and the walls which created a funnel for the fire to roar up the sides and around the building. This was due to poor construction, poor maintenance, poor supervision, poor quality materials, poor fire regulation and ooor inspection. Basically everyone involved took their salary for doing a poor rushed job, even the Met Fire Brigade Safety Officer signed it off without knowing what he was supposed to be checking.

            There was an issue of course with sub letting. Some people were living there “illegally” and so did not want to let in the authorities, in the form of workmen or indeed were not told by the actual tenants who were sub letting ti them that work was scheduled for the same reason.

            The flats were originally designed to be self contained in the event of a fire, hence the instructions to stay put. But that protection had been removed over the years by shoddy maintenance and was exacerbated by flawed attachment of the panels, shoddy materials, failure of safety supervision and inspection and overall poor management.

            Anyone familiar with public sector works will be only too aware of these issues. The real tragedy is that residents tried desperately to get the block made safer beforehand and were ignored.

          • Paul Greenwood

            Yes but it was aluminium sheeting that created the chimney-effect allowing the cladding to combust behind the aluminium outer facing

        • giyane

          What do us stinking rich actually do, daddy?

          The cause of the fire was unforeseen parameters of
          1/ a lost 3 phase neutral causing overvoltages that had damaged a kitchen appliance
          2/ flammable external cladding

          and the means by which it will be covered up are:
          1/ the cosy relationship between corporate construction companies and the legislature
          2/ a bent judge in charge of the enquiry
          3/ bent solicitors hired to act for the survivors

          As with all catastrophes that occur under the Tories, brexit, madcow disease or total bank failure the problems could have been predicted by a 2 year old, but we’re over-ruled by stubborn adherence to bent Tory dogma

          • Blunderbuss

            “What do us stinking rich actually do, daddy? ”

            Oh, I thought you spent 6 days a week making life better for the peasants and then shot pheasants on Sundays. Mind you, it’s easy to confuse peasants and pheasants.

          • Blunderbuss

            Thank you giyane, very informative. How does a lost 3 phase neutral cause an overvoltage? Blunderbuss (age 1 year 11 months).

          • Clark

            Mains electricity is AC, alternating current, so the live is swinging, fifty times a second, from zero volts up to around plus 300 volt, then back down through zero to around minus 300 volt, and so on. (300v is greater than the nominal 230v because the latter is a sort of average, called RMS.)

            Disconnection of the local neutral connection from the local earth connection means that the local ‘neutral’ is no longer neutral. Instead of being a steady zero volt as it should be, it too starts swinging positive and negative, fifty times a second. But it’s going to be in the opposite direction to one of the live phases, such that as that phase goes up to around 300v, the neutral goes down, and vice-versa a 1/100th of a second later etc. Say it goes down to -100v. Thus the voltage across appliances on that phase is from +300 on that live, to -100 on the faulty neutral making 400 total. By ohms law a 1/3rd more current will flow, causing around 1.78 as much power to be used by any affected appliances; a three kilowatt appliance would draw and dissipate over five kilowatt.

          • giyane


            1/ you can lose a neutral when it’s not tightened up enough in the terminal. It gets so hot it burns the metal out.
            2/ Three phase happens in 3 phases not at the same time. All domestic services would be between one phase and neutral @230 volts. possibly some communal services might use 415 as was or 400 volts like launderette machines.
            3/ If the 230 volt can’t find a return path through neutral it can try to find a path to one of the phases which are not firing at that same split second ( Think of a Mercedes logo )
            through the neutral wire that is also connected to the other phases , or through the earth which is supposed to be totally dead.
            4/ anyway, that can increase the voltage from 230 volts between a phase and earth , towards the 400 volts which exists between 2 phases.
            5/ I’m only making assumptions here because I was never taught this. In fact Grenfell is the first time I’d heard about over voltages from a lost neutral.
            6/ the conclusion that it had damaged something in the fridge/freezer was not mine either.
            An electrician who worked on refrigeration suggested that the capacitor in the freezer would not have survived a voltage way above its design capacity. I saw that on some electrical forum somewhere.
            7/ 2 year olds normally apply the rules once they’ve understood them. Corporations and Tories are in the business of breaking the rules wherever they perceive a level of public ignorance. This time they got found out.
            8/ Bad boys. Wouldn’t have happened in the US. ( Trump )

        • Dave Lawton

          It was top EU Bilderberger Klaus Kleinfeld who sold the cladding panels knowing they were flammable.He was CEO of Arconic and before that Siemens.


          He is now advising the Saudi Regime.

  • Sharp Ears

    All of those £millions spent in lighting up the sky around the world last night. For what?

    In my day, it was a simple matter of my father, a dark haired man, going outside, knocking at the door and being let in holding piece of coal.

    Does First Footing still happen on Scotland?

        • Blunderbuss

          I heard some strange figures quoted on the TV last night. London – 70,000 fireworks weighing 8 tons. Edinburgh – 300,000 tons of fireworks. I think the latter should have been 300,000 fireworks (not tons) but, even so, it seems Nicola was determined to outdo Theresa.

        • Ian

          No idea what that means, and could care even less. Spending all day on social media, even on holidays, is not good for your mental health. That is a general observation.

          • John Spencer-Davis

            It means “mind your own business” – m.y.o.b. Myob.

            This brilliant piece of anarchic science fiction comedy uses the epithet extensively and probably introduced it to the language. E.F. Russell was in my view the best science fiction writer that ever lived, and this story has had quite a considerable following in the libertarian left.


          • David

            Agree with you JSD about Russel. I have a hardback copy of WASP, which Sir Pterry considered to be a comic terrorism handbook.

            1957’s WASP was nominally set off-planet, but seemed to me to be *very* SOE/Europe or Asia inspired. The book’s theme is how a simple flying wasp could take down a car (about a 1M:1 ratio in size/weight?) and the hero takes down the alien repressive regime in a similar manner.

            Regular commentators here should NOT read Eric Frank Russel’s WASP, it might give you all ideas, which the cosmic secret police will not tolerate.

          • John Spencer-Davis

            I’m very glad to hear from a fellow Russell fan, as he is pretty well forgotten except among diehard Golden Age science fiction enthusiasts and anarchists.

            “Wasp” is a terrific novel. I also possess a copy. One has to remember that Russell was writing not too long after the Third Reich. The “Kaitempi” secret police in the novel are in my opinion lifted directly from the Gestapo.

            Curiously enough, despite its warmth, humour and brilliance, it is one of the few Russell works which chills me a little, as the protagonist is quite prepared to murder innocents in his one-man war behind enemy lines. It is in some conflict with Russell’s customary exposition of peaceful civil disobedience. One must remember, however, that it is quite explicitly a war novel.

            Best, John

      • giyane

        sharp ears might have sharp ears but other bits of her anatomy near her ears have survived cancer after a gruelling length of treatment.
        I suggest it might be nice for you to apologise

        • Ian

          I specifically said it was a general observation, which applies to all of us. I am sorry for whatever SE has been through, but as I said was making a general point. Focussing relentlessly on whatever is wrong with the world, posting continuously about it, while not participating in the social rituals around Hogmanay is imho not good for anyone. Participating more, engaging with others, I would also suggest, is more productive and better for the soul. that is also a general observation. No offence intended.

  • Sharp Ears

    Shame on your mob peterson.

    ‘Our financiers will provide loans for amounts ranging from £100 up to £5000, accompanied with an APR from 39.9% – 49.9%.’

  • Sharp Ears

    ‘2019 is a year of potentially momentous change for the United Kingdom, and in a new series of five programmes, Neil MacGregor visits five different countries to talk to leading political, business and cultural figures to find out how they, as individuals and as members of their broader communities, see Britain.

    In this programme he is in Cairo to explore the extent to which the relationship between Egypt and Britain can be traced back to such key events as the Battle of the Nile or the Suez Crisis or whether there are other events and cultural influences that have a greater impact on the nature that relationship today. Writer Ahdaf Soueif and political historian Said Sadek are among those revealing what they learnt about Britain at school, how their first encounters with Britain and British institutions had the greatest impact in shaping their perception of Britain today.’

    There is a very short allusion to Palestine and British perfidy on Neil McGregor’s programme which was broadcast earlier this morning. He is in Cairo. 28 mins

    Ahdaf Souief is wonderful. McGregor was very surprised she included Palestine as being the central wreckage. Her explanation was succinct. And the Iraq ”’war””. Compare Suez, when ”Israel” was an ally, with ‘Balfour’.

    Her Desert Island Disc choice of a British thing was our NHS! And why in a few very good words.

    • Blunderbuss

      A Nigerian friend told me that, when he was at school, he was taught that an Englishman never tells a lie.

  • Bert.

    I am horrified.

    Not at the description of terrible wounds but the very fact that you might be ashamed to have feelings.

    If a few more government servants (and particularly politicians) had feelings the world might be a very much better place for it.

    Kevin Dutton’s list of the top ten psychopathic professions is very telling:

    1. CEOs;
    2. Lawyers;
    3. Broadcast media;
    4. Sales persons;
    5. Surgeon;
    6. Journalist;
    7. Police Officer;
    8. Cleric;
    9. Chef;
    10. Civil Servant.

    [Dutton., K. (2013) The Wisdom of Psychopaths. London. Arrow Books. [p. 173.]]

    Alarming how many of these are either running the world or sucking up to those who are running the world. See also:

    At least now we have a very good idea how and why the world is such a shit-heap… but how do we stop them? In spite of the fact that these things are now well known, the psychiatrists refuse to identify our ‘leaders’ as psychopaths and lock them up; the police refuse to provide protection; and the lackies of the media rarely even mention that fact that the most criminally dangerous people in the pworld are the ones running the show.

    Tony Bliar and Government- estimated 4 million dead across the middle east;

    50% of suicides (and all of them men) down the behaviour of the judges (lawyers) in divorce.

    Tory work capability estimated 600 suicides;

    Peter Suttcliffe 13 dead 7 maimed;

    Dennis Nilsen 12 dead;

    Michael Ryan 16 (+1 himself);

    Thomas Hamilton 16 (+1 himself) and 15 injured.

    Robert Black (number uncertain)

    These are nothing be comparison to our rulers.

    Meanwhile the psychopaths in blue (number 7 on the list) stand by a do nothing.

    You should be proud to have feelings – not ashamed of them.


    • Blunderbuss

      I think it’s the “Animal Farm” syndrome and it could happen to any of us. It’s not that psychopaths become politicians, it is that being a politician can turn one into a psychopath. I am a very minor politician myself, so I have some awareness of this.

      • Republicofscotland

        Speaking of Orwell’s Animal Farm, four years after his death, in 1950, the CIA helped fund an animated version of Orwell’s Animal Farm, in an attempt to ridicule Communism during the Cold war.

        • Deb O'Nair

          Yes, and they made the producers change the ending so that the ‘evil communist’ pigs were overthrown by outsiders (like when the US ‘liberates’ a country), rather than the original story where the pigs end up indistinguishable from humans.

      • Bert.

        Certainly power corrupts etc. The renowned Zimbardo prison experiment shows that rather well. Even reasonably normal people – given a little power – tend to become abusive.

        But the deviousness of psychopaths is not the same as the rather crude abusiveness that results merely from power. Devious, deceitful, manipulative psychopaths are much more subtle and less obvious than mere tyrants and dictators.

        However, whether they are merely creepy scumbags; or much more sophisticated manipulators, the shite in blue and the psychiatrists say nothing of the extreme anti-social behavior and its consequences.


        • Garth Carthy

          I agree with you about the issue of psychopaths in positions of great power.
          I really think there needs to be more awareness of the dangers of psychopaths in our society: One in every hundred of the population are reckoned to be psychopaths. This may not seem such a large number but it needs to be borne in mind that, as you point out, psychopaths are drawn in disproportionately large numbers to positions of power and can therefore wreak havoc and totally skew democracy.
          I don’t know if there is an answer in the ‘real world’ to this problem because it is often so difficult to know who is psychopathic and who is not. As you point out, they are so devious and manipulative and they can mimic ‘sincerity’ to the point were even experts can sometimes be fooled.

          Of course, it’s rather a sobering thought, but maybe we need a few people with a few psychopathic tendencies i.e. risk takers and focused decision makers to lead us and take risks to move society on.

          • Bert.

            The problem of how to deal with peole who are exceptionally devous and deceitful has been bothering me since the early 1980s. You are quite right about the difficulty of dealing with them. One problem that may be arising is the difference between the psychopath and the sociopath.

            Berne (1971) p. 240., suggests that the word sociopath is taking over from the word psychopath. The implication being that they essentially have the same meaning. However, more recently, Black (2017) p. 9., suggests that a distinction mybe useful: that with increasing understanding of the classical psychopath as having a genetic component, it might be of some value to use the word sociopath for those created by psycho-social circumstances rather than born that way.

            Falon (2014) proves interesting in this regard. He presses that the genetic psychopath has an underactivated ventro-medial pre-frontal cortex (otherwise know as the orbital cortex since in immediately behind and above the orbit of the eye socket). This, Fallon presses is a clear indicator of the psychopath. His Chapter Four: Bloodlines, is of particular interest and may relate to why Amerikans are such a pain in the arse.

            We require qualifications for certain jobs and also insist upon various tests – including medical – to perform certain occupational tasks. It strikes me we might start by requiring a satisfactory brain scan for senior managers; journalists; lawyers; cops; teachers; doctors; bureaucrats; and others that may have positions of power that may be very destructive to society. (Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list.)

            It may be noted that someone with diabetes is disqualified from flying (at all) and may be disqualified from driving. A medical qualification is required to work in a number of position aboard ship. Why not for people in significant decision-making roles? This, however, does not distinguish the sociopath as opposed to the psychopath.

            Berne., E. (1971) A Layman’s Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. London. Penguin Books.

            Black., W. (2018) Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires. Edinburgh. Frntline Books.

            Fallon., J. (2014) The Psychopath Inside. New York. Penguin Group.


        • Republicofscotland

          “Certainly power corrupts etc. The renowned Zimbardo prison experiment shows that rather well. Even reasonably normal people – given a little power – tend to become abusive.”

          Good point Bert, not only that the real deep down belief that only following orders as in the Milgram experiment, can have disastrous consequences, often without the feeling of guilt. It’s amazing the compulsive effect a white coat, or uniform, can have over a person when it comes to obeying orders.

          • Blunderbuss

            I have a tendency to disobey orders. Does that make me a psychopath or a sociopath or a sensible person? Don’t all reply at once.

          • Bert.

            Yes. Tragic.

            When you put together: Ashe’s line test (conformity); Milgram (on obedience); and Zimbardo (power itself doing the dirty work) it has to be said the humans are a pretty sad lot.


          • bj

            I have a tendency to disobey orders. Does that make me a psychopath or a sociopath or a sensible person?

            You could have a hearing problem.

          • Blunderbuss

            @bj 15:19

            Quite right. I have had a hearing test with strange results. I can hear sounds of low and high frequency, but not middle frequency.

      • John O'Dowd

        Sorry Blunderbuss – you are quite wrong about that. Psychopaths actively seek positions of power, hence their preponderance in these positions.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean all who occupy positions of power are psychopaths, only that such persons are more likely to be psychopaths in proportions higher their prevalence in the population at large.

        If you are a politician – look to yourself and your motives – but here is the problem – psychopaths are generally incapable of self-diagnosis!

        • John Spencer-Davis

          When appointing a chief executive of a top-flight company, the board and major shareholders will generally be asking themselves, among other questions, how capable the person will be of taking tough decisions. Tough decisions, of course, meaning, for example, interfering with other people’s human rights by throwing them on the dole, allegedly in the perceived interests of the company, but mostly, in actuality, in the perceived interests of the board and major shareholders doing the appointing.

          “How big a bastard to other people is this potential recruit capable of being?” is a very important question in the corporate world. Very frequently, there is a metaphorical bloodletting after a top-flight appointment, as the new CEO stamps his or her authority on the company by getting rid of some people pour encourager les autres. I have seen this personally at least three times in my working life.

          These behaviours are perfectly understandable in the kind of society in which we choose to live. It is not at all surprising that there is a greater preponderance of people who lack empathy and who have essentially sold their souls to corporate power the higher up the hierarchy one ascends.


          • Bert.

            Sadly, all to right JS-D. In fact it is required by law. In Hutton vs. West Cork Railway (1883) Lord Bowen, giving the lead opinion remarked:

            The law does not say that there are to be no cakes and ale, but there are to be no cakes and ale except such as are required for the benefit of the company… charity has no business to sit at boards of directors qua charity. There is, however, a kind of charitable dealing which is for the interest of those who practise it, and to that extent and in that garb (I admit not a very philanthropic garb) charity may sit at the board, but for no other purpose.

            [Bakan., J (2005) The Corporation. London. Constable. [pp. 38-39]]

            Plainly it is necessary to change the law so as to make corporations responsible first to the general welfare of society. Of course, people will say that corporations will then leave britain but that is only because we are stupid enough to leave the EU and make ourselves weak against the fascist diktats of corporate power. If we remained in Europe we could hammer the corporations just as we could have hammered the banks – by acting collectively. Do you think these self-seeking greed-mongers would abandon the whole of the largest economic region in the world in order to make a political point?


          • Paul Greenwood

            Not so. Usually you need someone who has “dirt under the nails” so he can be “managed”. He is given free rein in some area which rewards him – like Ghosn or Goodwin. Or he is weak and the fiefdoms and barons can manage him like Andy Hornby at HBOS. It is always a question of finding someone acceptable to all factions unlikely to be a threat to their territory…………..that is why Putin was selected by Yeltsin and Berezhovsky and the Siloviki……….now he is being constrained by the Military-Security Complex as US and UK lay the groundwork for war

        • Blunderbuss

          I am a minor politician because I like to get things done but I’m not ruthless enough to be successful.

    • Dungroanin

      The money chooses and hothouses psychopaths from an early age to populate the Pathocracy – that aims to rule the world.

      And has done so for centuries.

      There are only the margins where unsullied indies are allowed to exist – such as blogs like this.

      Even getting caught red handed, the barefaced denial is worthy of the emperor with no clothes.

      There has only ever been one way to stop them – a mass uprising that cannot be easily put down.

    • Sharp Ears

      The surgeons I know and have known are not psychopaths. They heal and do not harm.

      • Bert.

        I found that odd when Ifirst read it. Perhaps there is some unconscious satifaction is cutting people up – even with the best of intentions.

        I would rather have seen doctors in general (and particularly psychiatrists) – I have known several who were happy to use the patient to serve their own best interests.


  • Bertram

    What self absorbed rot.

    Apart from the stupidity of sending a minor grade civil servant to do a job they clearly are not suited for [ What would happen in the real world is that a call would be made to the local burns unit, speak with the lead medic say what had happened, the numbers involved and say; assuming they have no supplies of any kind give me a list of what they need immediately] …

    The two other things that I don’t understand is why you went back, risking the spread of infection amongst the patients when you found it so distressing and just to gawp and

    What has this to do with Scottish Nationalism?

    • craig Post author

      What a pity you weren’t there, Bertram, doubtless you would have done a much better job.

      As it happens, my Civil Service equivalent rank (the DS has its own structure) in 1994 was Senior Principal, which is not considered a “minor grade” by anyone but you. It is your point, so perhaps you might tell us what grade of civil servant you think would have been appropriate?

      • Adrian Parsons

        After reading the ‘deposit’ from Bertram above, this seems to be a good point to wish you, Craig, a happy New Year (and holiday in Poland).

        Nil carborundum (don’t let the bastards grind you down)!

        • giyane

          Yes, Happy new year Craig , family and followers all.
          Bertram doesn’t seem to have noticed the year. PC’s had green screens; people could only be found by having a library of telephone directories and mobiles were as you say like bricks.

          Before even the revolving door between unemployed New Labour politicians and gravy train good works. In 1994 I’d just spent 3 years as a volunteer with a homeless charity recrecovering from a breakdown in 1987.

          It has never occurred to me in my entire life that there was anything wrong with my psyche other than having lived under Thatcher’s evil reign of terror. I put my trust in God and found Islam.

          If Labour is now as together as Grace Blakely, nobody’s going to listen to the Tory stink tanks again.

      • Garth Carthy

        Who the hell is this ‘Bertram’?
        He seems to have an agenda. His spite and bitterness are way out of order.
        Bugger off, Bertram!

        • Goose

          ” It’s turtles all the way down” – Bertrand Russell , recalling an old woman’s explanation of the infinite regress problem.

          “Trolls all the way down” – Bertram(?) on Craig’s comment section.

  • Republicofscotland

    Well I hope everyone had a joyous, peaceful and reflective New Year. May 2019 see you all in good health and good cheer. ?

    Meanwhile rather predictably on the back of the constant media din on immigrants crossing the Channel. We had a New Year terror attack in Manchester, with the now obligatory police officer wounded, it would appear MI5 never takes a day.

    • Dave

      And the assailant forgot his lines, only reportedly saying “Allah”, rather than “Allah Akbar”! It seems even the flash mob are bored with the script!!!

  • Robyn

    O/T – Consortium News has a report by Joe Lauria on Rudy Giuliani’s comments on Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Giuliani noted that ‘… Julian Assange had done “nothing wrong” and should not go to jail for disseminating stolen information just as major media does. “Let’s take the Pentagon Papers,” Giuliani told Fox News. “The Pentagon Papers were stolen property, weren’t they? It was in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Nobody went to jail at The New York Times and The Washington Post.” He goes on to make other points supporting Julian’s case.

  • Isa

    Happy New Year Craig and all in this comment section .

    Thank you for your courage in sharing this traumatic experience with us Craig .

    We are all frail in normal circumstances and even frailer when witnessing such trauma . There’s nothing wrong with that , there is everything wrong in people who criticise others who suffer post trauma anxiety .

  • Ros Thorpe

    A beautifully written and moving story that restores my faith in human beings. Happy new year to all.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Happy New Year to everyone. I’m still alive and in my right mind, just. Best wishes, John

    • giyane

      Weird how these chattering reptiles think a man baring his soul might be a Jurassic park moment for them.

      • John Spencer-Davis

        Wasn’t anything to do with the most recent post. He says Craig is a liar about him but he didn’t do anything about it at the time because Craig was confessing to being mentally ill – for what that’s worth.

        • giyane


          Aaronovitch clears his name as others clear their throats by gobbing on the pavement . At least dogs are marking out territory. Aaronovitch uses artistic licence to justify the colour of his slime, knowing full well there’s no other justification for his vile opinions

  • Jiusito

    Happy new year, Craig. This is a powerful piece that has only deepened my respect for your humanity and the insight that life has given you.

  • Sarge

    Happy hogmanny, Craig. Those were touching recollections. I’ve got a feeling you are not going to be short of material for 2019. Look forward to reading your insights.

  • able

    Already a terror attack in Manchester and a fatal stabbing in London. Ain’t diversity just great.

      • giyane

        May has threatened us with eat poo or pay tax decision on 14th Jan. Neither Tories nor Labour accept that choice. When I visited the Jungle exactly 2 years ago there were political types visiting talking in English about policy change .

        They know the “”” criminal gangs “”” who worked the lorry system then and rubber dinghy system now. Expect wave on wave of enforcers to make the headlines from now on until the correct decision is manufactured by the spooks.

        Road rage => blocked ports
        Libya rage => Manchester
        Beach rage => naval frigits
        Air rage => drone-catching drones
        still to come:
        Russia rage =>
        NHS rage =>
        Anti-Semitic rage =>
        false feminist rage =>

        Have I forgotten anything?

    • Dungroanin

      Still cross the road when you see a black person approaching do you? Or do you just stay in your bunker nowdays and get internet shopping delivered mostly by immigrants?

      It is not that I am rising to your trolling – it is quite humourous like clowns pratfalls or wylie coyote looking confused as another great plan backfires. The thread is quite informative today about psychopaths employed by the establishment to defend and further it’s causes. Have you self styled provocateurs ever considered that you are being used? Do you not care? Are you infact happy and proud to be part of the ‘gang’? Do you think everyone else is soft in thr head? Is Colonel Jessups speech your daily motto?

      I do hope that your family and friends are important to you and you do have an element of empathy and sympathy and you never ignore a child crying.

      Peace and love and a happy revolutionary year to our bots in their Chindit barracks blocks.

    • able

      And another fatal stabbing in London. That’s two fatal stabbings and it’s still day one of the year.

      • Dungroanin

        COUNT dwacula from Sesame street! Two thats two! One! Two! Hwah hwah hwah.
        Are you going to keep track of every reported crime or incident for the year?

        Please do and make it available.

        Three , 1, 2, 3… haw haw.

  • michael norton

    If you go on Wikipedia, the situation in Syria is under a heading
    “Syrian Civil War”
    but when you consider how many outside actors there have been, perhaps less than half the war has been civil?
    Idleb Province ( adjacent to Turkey
    The reporter said army units targeted with concentrated fire the positions and bastions of terrorists from the so-called “Turkistani Party” which embraces hundreds of foreign mercenaries in Qastoun village at the al-Ghab Plain, Hama northwestern countryside.

    • michael norton

      “The Turkistanis”
      Turkistan Islamic Party, known as “the Turkistanis”, is a party of Uyghur Muslim fighters, they are jihadists came from China.

      Now to me, people coming from China to do war in Syria,
      seems strange.

      • michael norton

        It seems many thousands of people from other lands have come to Turkey,
        then with the help of Turkey moved into Northern Syria and displaced the Syrian people.
        This is not Civil War. This is replacement.
        This is probably,
        internationally accepted as war crimes.

        You have attacks by America, France, U.K. Israel, Turkey,
        funding from Israel, America, France, U.K. Kuwait, Saudi and other Gulf States, the facilitation of terror done to Syria by outside states and actors.
        How has the United Nations allow these terrible crimes to go on, virtually unchallenged.

      • MJ

        Strange to stranger. It also gives the Chinese State legal grounds to send armed forces to Syria if it sees fit.

    • bj

      Without having looked — I bet quite a substantial number of the edits of that page are by one Philip Cross.

    • Clark

      “If you go on Wikipedia, the situation in Syria is under a heading “Syrian Civil War””

      There is also a page, “Foreign involvement in the Syrian Civil War”:

      “The ongoing conflict in Syria is widely described as a series of overlapping proxy wars between the regional and world powers, primarily between the US and Russia as well as between Iran and Saudi Arabia.”

      The page would be improved with more information about foreign combatants. The section on Israeli involvement draws heavily on Israeli official announcements. Israeli involvement also has various separate pages.

      • michael norton

        Hi Clark, It would seem that they do not have a page which is titles “War on Syria”

        this would nearer reflect the actuality

        • Clark

          The trouble is that Wikipedia rules say “no original research”; articles must be based on “reliable sources”… But there are bugger all reliable sources for undercover operations.

          It’s a known problem among Wikipedia editors. For current affairs including ongoing politics, about the only acceptable sources are the corporate “news” media. These are counted as “reliable sources” because they have an editorial policy, can be sued, and are sometimes made to print retractions or corrections. But newspapers etc. are rather low in Wikipedia’s ranking of “reliable sources”; courtroom evidence, government records, scholarly articles and academic, well-referenced books are all ranked higher, so articles about historical events tend to be much higher quality.

  • Goatboy

    I urge all those interested in the Syrian conflict to watch this clip of a recent UN panel reporting back on an investigation conducted on the so called White Helmet group. Some 400+ members of this group were recently spirited out of Syria and into the countries where their funding (and agenda) originated. If, like me, you may be worried about the security situation in the UK as a result of accepting people accused of torture, murder, theft, beheading, organ theft and orchestrating false flag propaganda events, I suggest you do all that you can to expose this absurd action. At a time when citizens with 50+ years of faithful tax paying citizenship in the UK are being deported and countless unaccompanied minors sit devoid of rights and protection in Calais, that we would accept the murdering scum of countless atrocities in Syria is beyond comprehension. As the moderator and Syrian Ambassador to the UN make clear in their summation. Haven’t the Western powers been here before (Bin Laden/9-11?).

    I would like to see the documentation that supports this presentation, but it seems to me that the Western Media have a duty to follow up on this work and cross examine these witnesses to establish and hopefully verify how truthful their accounts are. Brexit can wait another week or two!

    • giyane

      If promises to terrorists aren’t kept
      , I.e. free passports as payment for services to Mrs May, who would ever work for MI6 in future ?

      Bertram’s outrage, definitely exacerbated bybooze or cocaine, at Craig’s very existence shows the total frustration of the blimps in power. They set up terror false flags. Nobody believes a word. They still have to pay for fxxxing up and the terrorists can name them personally in court for paying them for terror abroad .

      They die young from stress booze and heart failure unless like Boris or Cameron they get out of kitchen because it’s too hot with lies. Don’t worry, the fire of hell is certain for those who persecute the Muslims. The heat in hell will repeatedly toast their skins and be replaced to get toasted again. This for the UK politicians or diplomats as well as for the terrorists .

      Some dozy Kurds spy on me. They have a MI6 broadband installed in my neighbours house connected to electronic stuff in my house.
      They come in the neighbours house talking Kurdish when the neighbour switches it off.

      The utter incompetence of MI6 is pure comedy.

    • Republicofscotland

      “I urge all those interested in the Syrian conflict to watch this clip of a recent UN panel reporting back on an investigation conducted on the so called White Helmet group.”

      The West has a long history of excursions into Syria, during the First Crusade in 1098 . The Crusaders held the city of Maarat under siege. The inhabitants agreed to surrender under the promise of safe passage, however the Crusaders slaughtered every last one of them.

      Running low on supplies some of the the Crusaders cooked and ate their butchered victims.

  • Kerch'eee Kerch'ee Coup

    Unless you have actually witnessed the devastation of such a fire or at least spoken at length with someone who has, it is all too easy to brush over such stories or somehow seek to justify or rationalise what happened by disparaging the victims. Most people in Britain, for example, have no idea of the horrific burns sustained by victims of ‘Operation Gomorrah’, especially the firebombing of Hamburg. Some 50 years ago, I learnt from German First-Aid Workers and nurses at the time who tried to counter the horrific burns and separate the bodies fused together.
    The government’s Mass Observation at that time sought to gauge the mood of the public and the rumours that were in circulation. Certainly, it was not thought that the British public should be allowed to know the full facts terror bombing campaign. It is it is largely by such a series of progressive degradations that we have been lulled into accepting the use of such terror bombing with only a shrug or minor protests.

  • extremebuilder

    A fun new years day discussing, 1, prostitution and it`s variants and it`s implicatons for tomorow, 2, money and it`s creation and where next for it, and 3, why —– was sacked. I love —– and so obviously I`m concerned.
    I think the english are living up to their reputation of being the stupidest people on the planet. Americans of course excluded. The french are learning the lesson of believing that there was a middle way…. macron…. c u n t . Can`t help but think that this is as close to being fucked as we can get without tasting the condom, Happy 2019 see you in the gulag xx

  • Sharp Ears

    Good for the French. We just talk about doing it.

    ‘Tech giants will now pay more tax in France, after the country decided not to wait for the rest of the EU to introduce the measure. The so-called GAFA tax targeting major digital firms comes into force on January 1.

    The French government hopes to raise €500 million ($572 million) with levies specifically aimed at multinational tech firms, including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said, announcing the move in December. He stressed that “the tax will be introduced whatever happens.”’

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