On poppies, Virgin Trains and the “snoopers’ charter”

AMID the Corbyn clamour one thing upsets me: the suggestion that the red poppy glorifies war.
The reverse is true. Burying his close friend and former student Alexis Helmer, who was killed during the battle of Ypres, Major John McCrae noted how quickly poppies grew around the graves of those who had died.
Grieving his loss he composed ‘In Flanders Field’ while sitting in the back of an ambulance a few yards from the battlefield.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Among the crosses, row and row
That mark our place. 

It was an instant sensation in a war-torn nation, lamenting as it does the loss of young lives, and the poppy became a symbol.
I wear my red poppy in remembrance of men and women who were prepared to die so that others could live in freedom.
No one wants war but sometimes liberty needs defending.
MY husband has been ill and so the last two weeks haven’t been easy.
I’ve been going backwards and forwards to London with a lot on my mind. In that time I’ve been:
STRANDED at Hitchin because of a faulty train so that I landed in my hotel room at 1.45am with a wake-up all for 6am.
STRANDED at York because of signalling problems, meaning I had to come back to Durham by taxi.
FINALLY, today, I’ve come back on a horribly crowded train because a faulty carriage had to be taken out. Come on Virgin Trains! This was NOT what we were promised.
And if the problems were partly the fault of Network Rail why is the government spending billions on shortening the journey to Manchester by half-an-hour when the whole rail network is creaking and in need of an update?
Full marks to Virgin staff, however. Competent and helpful even in adverse circumstances.


ACCORDING to MI5, more than 3,000 British Islamist extremists are being monitored by police and the security services.
A group of men and women, mainly in their teens, have been radicalised and are willing to launch a terror attack in the UK. The head of MI5 says that the six plots foiled at home in the past year “is the highest number I can recall in my 32-year career, certainly the highest number since 9/11”.
A parliamentary inquiry into the 2013 murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby found one of the fanatics, Michael Adebowale, had discussed on Facebook (with another extremist) killing a soldier but neither MI5 or the police was alerted.
Andrew Parker, head of MI5, made his remarks in the first live interview given by a serving head of either MI5, MI6 or GCHQ, which suggests he thinks we need to be alert.
His warning comes ahead of the publication of two pieces of Government legislation on combating extremism, and giving security officials greater powers to monitor communications data.They are likely to prove hugely controversial, labelled an attempt to revive the so-called snoopers’ charter.
At Ground Zero, in the aftermath of 9/11, I saw the havoc wreaked in the lives of ordinary people. Sixty-three babies were born to men who died in the choking dust of those buildings, children who will never know their fathers.

In London, hours after the London bombings, I heard the sobs of people who had had to identify the dead and saw a man in shock, his condition betrayed by his rictus grin. A woman begged me to find her son-in-law because her pregnant daughter was distraught.

If snooping on my emails prevents such havoc, I’m more than willing.


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