11 September 2022

In Memoriam - Elizabeth II Regina

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II 1926 - 2022

You gave us safe harbour and a fresh start in life.  
With gratitude and admiration, we thank you.


25 May 2022

In Memoriam

Richard John Lawrence Pascoe

1942 - 2022

A remembrance of Ricky Pascoe - friend, confidante, soulmate.

 I first met Ricky at a holiday camp near Rustenburg in the magaliesberg mountains called Inanda, in 1959.  I was sent there because my parents had gone on a trip to Italy.  The following is an excerpt from my memoirs:

“On arrival, I am greeted by an affable chap with black-rimmed glasses and a winning smile.  He introduces himself as Rick Pascoe.  I mumble my name and he introduces me to the rest of the crowd as “Ram” and the moniker sticks.  We have adjacent beds in the boys hostel (The boys sleep in one dormitory and the girls in a separate, but attached, dormitory) and discover that we have much in common.

 Ricky becomes a fast friend, the brother that I never had and eventually, my best man at my wedding and godfather to my children.  He is still my best friend as I write this, over half a century later.


We decide to climb to the top of the “Tiger Kloof” gorge, 150 metres high, without ropes, medical kit or water.  It’s a tough climb and takes us three hours.  At the top, we discover a paradise plateau where it seems no man has ever been before. There is the source of the stream that plunges over the edge into the gorge below as a 100-metre waterfall, with a pool big enough to swim in.  We strip and cool off and spend the day swimming and exploring the fauna and flora of this beautiful place before climbing down again at sunset.  When asked where we have been all day, we reply “To paradise!”

We walk the five K’s into Rustenburg town as a group, ten of us, to go to the cinema on a Saturday night.  We see a Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis movie called Hollywood or Bust. We walk back in the moonlight, listening to the sounds of the nocturnal wildlife along the way.  We tie (not too tightly) Lenny Dembofski, one of the boys who is making a real nuisance of himself, to a tree in the old abandoned cemetery that the road runs past, and leave him for the Tokolosh. At the hostel, we sit around a campfire and Ricky impersonates Dean Martin singing “Amore.”   Ricky and I apple-pie the beds in the girl’s dorm.   There is one girl called Lulu, who occupies Ricky’s bed in revenge and forces him to sleep on the floor.  I’m sure that she was hoping he would join her, but being the gentleman he was, he didn’t.  Maybe he did and I slept so soundly that I didn’t notice. “ 

Once back home after the holiday camp, our friendship endured and we visited one another as often as we could.  We were both in our final years of high school and neither of us had our own transport so we had to use busses and trains.   Ricky lived in Sunnyridge in Germiston and I lived in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.  Ricky’s parents were the most warm-hearted people and welcomed me into their home without reservation.  Ricky also had a sister, Sue, who I rarely saw.  Once I graduated high school and went into the Air Force for three years, we did not see much of each other but Ricky entered the world of having to work for a living and got a job with a company called Shimwells, who were the importers of Walther firearms and Honda motorcycles.  When my time in the air force was up, I also got a job at the O.K.Bazaars in Johannesburg and Ricky and I used to meet for lunch at the Wimpy bar in Eloff street.    It was the beginning of my long association with all things guns and shooting.  Ricky owned a genuine DWM Luger in 9mm Parabellum, made at the DWM factory in Erfurt in 1917.  It was the most beautifully engineered piece I have ever seen. 

In 1964 Ricky bought himself one of the new Honda motorcycles, a CB350.  Now we had transport!  My father was a cameraman for the African Mirror newsreel,  (for those of you too young to remember pre-TV, a newsreel was a 30 minute news film which was shown in movie cinemas before the feature film, much like a TV news program today) and he occasionally allowed me to take a movie camera and cover a newsworthy event for African Mirror.  Ricky would take me where we needed to go on his Honda.  We also made friends with (I won’t say “joined”) the Hells Angles, who Ricky met in the Honda showroom.   

For my 21st birthday, my parents gave me a car, a Ford Anglia, and  Ricky presented me with a Walther PPK .380ACP pistol.  The Anglia did a lot of miles between Sunnyridge and Craighall, where my parents had built a new house.   One night it was raining very heavily when I had to take Ricky home.  I foolishly used a shortcut called the old Rosherville road, that went between the mine dumps.  I didn’t realise that the road had become a torrential river and the car was literally picked up by the water and washed off the road into a ditch, landing on it’s side. 

Ricky’s door was uppermost, and he climbed up out of the door still holding a cigar in one hand.  When some people stopped to as if we were ok, he replied, cigar in hand, “Oh yes, thank you.  We do this quite often!” 

Ricky married a girl called Brenda, who was the PA to the CEO of Coca-Cola SA.  He rented a small flat in a building overlooking Joubert Park in central Johannesburg, called Lorna Court.  The first time I visited, I realised that it was the very same flat that my paternal grandparents had lived in.  Ricky bought a series one Land Rover, which he parked outside the building in Joubert street.   We planned a road trip around Africa, starting at Cape Town and progressing through Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia, the Rhodesias  (now Zimbabwe and  Zambia)  Tanganyika (now Tanzania) Mozambique and back to SA via the east coast.  It was to be called “Operation Nomad” and we obtained all of the necessary permits, visas  and licenses.  We even arranged the purchase and delivery of a new 4x4 in Windhoek, a Ford F150 because the Namibian authorities would not allow the use of a narrow track vehicle such as the Land Rover on many of the desert roads.  Sadly, we never got to do the trip, due to the war in Angola and Rhodesia and Noelin’s father’s refusal to give her permission.  

Ricky’s marriage to Brenda was annulled after three months.  Something just didn’t work there.  Brenda ran off with an American pilot.  Ricky was very broken up about it.  He soon found solace in Lorraine, who lived on a large property in Bedford View.  They married soon after and were very happy.  I had married Noelin, and the four of us were very good friends.  Ricky was my best man at my wedding.  It wasn’t long before we all purchased new homes in a new suburb of Kempton Park called Birch Acres.   A daughter was born to Ricky and Lorraine, Melissa.  We had Venetia, Dario, Gia and Carina.  Noelin and Lorraine became very active in the dog showing and breeding fraternity, Noelin breeding Dalmatians and Lorraine breeding Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Ricky always had a joke to tell, or to liven up an evening.  He was a walking encyclopaedia  of all things firearms and ammunition.  We created a business together customising and nickel plating pistols, and gained a world wide reputation for the excellence of our work.  Ricky was appointed as a consultant to Armscor, the government arms manufacturer, and carried out much of the testing of vehicle armour against military small arms.  For this purpose he was given a permit to own an AK47 assault rifle, which was otherwise banned from civilian ownership.  He also owned a FN R1 and an American AR15.

Our interest in firearms and the shooting sports resulted in Ricky becoming the chairman and me becoming the secretary of the Combat Pistol Association.  This consumed much of our free time every weekend.  We eventually had over twenty clubs affiliated to the association and entered Springbok teams in two world championships, one in Johannesburg and one in Switzerland.  Ricky was the team manager on both occasions and was awarded his Springbok blazer.

Lorraine’s aged parents passed on and Lorraine inherited the Bedford View property and they sold the Birch Acres house and moved in there.  We moved to Cape Town and Ricky and I maintained our friendship by telephone and eventually, by eMail.  Ricky and Lorraine eventually sold the Bedford View property and moved to Knysna in the Cape, where they bought a hardware and general store business.  Unfortunately the business was not a success and Ricky and Lorraine separated.  They divorced and Ricky needed a lot of moral support at this time, but even through the dark times, he was always a delight to talk to.  Nothing ever got him down.  He eventually met up with an old shooting girl friend, Mareta, who we had both taught to shoot when we ran the Germiston Combat Pistol Club.  Mareta had been involved in a motorcycle accident and had one leg in a brace.  She and Ricky moved in together and Mareta’s condition deteriorated until she was confined to a wheelchair.  Through all of this, Ricky devoted his life to her care.  He had dreams of going into the bush on camping trips which never came to pass.  Mareta inherited her mother’s house in Knysna and she and Ricky lived there, devoted to each other. 

Ricky had a remarkable gift - his handwriting was pure calligraphic copperplate.  It was a beautiful thing to behold and he did it effortlessly and totally naturally.  I was amazed when he showed me the journal of his great-great-great-great-great grandfather, Lt John Pasco(e), who was Admiral Lord Nelson's Flag Lieutenant on HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar.  It was written in a hand identical to Ricky's.  I mean Identical. This is what "The Trafalgar Roll" says about John Pasco:

Rear-Admiral J. Pasco was born in 1774. Entered service, 1784; Mid., 1790; Lieut., 1795. Lieut, of Beaulieu at reduction of St. Lucie, 1796. Lieut, of Victory at capture of French frigate Ambuscade, 1803. Senior Lieut, and Signal Lieut, of Victory at Trafalgar, 1805 ; but did not act as First. Arranged with Lord Nelson the memorable signal, “ England expects that every man will do his duty.” Was severely wounded in the right side and arm, for which he received a grant from the Patriotic Fund, and an Admiralty pension of /250 per annum. Was promoted Commander, 1805. Carried a bannerol of lineage at 14 THE TRAFALGAR ROLL Nelson’s funeral, 1806. Captain, 1811. Good Service Pension, 1842. Captain of Victory, 1847. Retired Rear-Admiral, 1847. Medal and clasp. Died at Stonehouse, Devonport, November 1853, aged 78.

Ricky came from noble stock.    

I will miss him dreadfully.  Although we lived half a world apart, he was always a part of me.  He was the brother that I never had,  and I feel a dark hollow in my soul that used to be filled with his life, laughter and love.

Rest in peace, Amigo.   

9 April 2022

War Criminal? It's not enough!

I type this with a heavy heart.  I have been dismayed and totally horrified by the news reports of the atrocities that are being uncovered, that have been committed by the Russian forces in Ukraine.  The kind of vile, evil things that the Russians have perpetrated on the innocent civilians of Ukraine have not been seen since the days of Atilla The Hun, Pol Pot, Josef Stalin and Sadam Hussein.  I am sure that there are, or have been, many others throughout history but surely they belong to less civilised, less knowledgeable and less humanitarian eras?  What is being witnessed in northern Ukraine as the Russian forces retreat is mind numbing.  

The wanton killing of people in the street, the rape and murder of women, young girls and of children, the torture and dismemberment of innocent people are acts of barbarism that cannot be allowed to go unpunished in the 21st century.  If the individuals who commanded or allowed these acts to happen, starting with Vladimir Putin himself and progressing down the line to the commanders on the ground and the men who actually did these horrific deeds are not brought before the International Court of Criminal Justice at The Hague, then our civilisation and all of the nations within it who believe in the rule of law and in human rights and dignity, are reduced to the same low level of barbarity.  To allow the perpetrators to go free would be to condescend to the worst kind of evil and would open the door to similar acts being perpetrated in the future without fear of retribution.

I have always had a keen interest in the events of the 2nd World War, simply because my father served in the North African campaign, the Italian campaign and the European campaign.  The horror of the Nazi concentration camps made civilised people doubt their sanity and mechanisms were set up at the end of hostilities that were to prevent such things ever happening again, the most important of which was the League of Nations which became the United Nations Organisation.  Within the United Nations, a Security Council was created.  Forgetting, or ignoring the fact that the Russians, under Stalin, had double crossed their allies by annexing most of eastern Europe and by erecting an "Iron Curtain" that divided Europe in two, five member states were made "permanent members" of this council, being China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the USA.  Then these five were were all given the right to veto any resolution drafted by the council!  This, of course, made the United Nations virtually toothless, only able to intercede in matters that concerned countries or states that were of no particular import to Russia or to China.  It is against this background that any resolution drafted and brought before the Security Council condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine has been vetoed by Russia.  The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky told the UN that they should dissolve the Security Council, erase it from their charter, and than start again with a fresh Security Council without the veto rule, or remain an inconsequential body with no real power. 

I see two possible scenarios unfolding now:  

1) Russia becomes totally isolated from the civilised world, a pariah state, totally embargoed, with all visas of any kind held by Russian citizens, cancelled by the issuing countries.  Russia joins the ranks of the likes of North Korea, Myanmar and Syria.  This situation resolves into another prolonged cold war.  Eventually, the Russian people will realise how their president and his cronies have deceived them and deprived them of the goods and freedoms that they once enjoyed before Russia invaded Ukraine.  There will be a civil war inside Russia, with some of the former Soviet Union countries such as Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan supporting the Russian regime.  Ultimately, UN supervised elections will result in a regime change.  Timeframe:  10 to 15 years.

2) Russia continues to commit atrocities in Ukraine to the point when the civilised world will stand no more and NATO throws down the gauntlet.  Putin relishes the opportunity to vanquish the west and takes up the challenge, resulting in WW3. He could very probably use biological weapons as well as small nuclear weapons i.e. nuclear tipped artillery shells and short range rockets.  He will not use full-blown nuclear intercontinental missiles because he is not that stupid that he would not believe that the USA would retaliate in kind, resulting in the total destruction of Russia.  The USA would annex Cuba early in the proceedings.  Taking advantage of the wests preoccupation with the war in Europe, North Korea will attack South Korea with a high probability of the use of nuclear weapons, if only because Kim Yong-un and his sister are megalomaniacs.  Likewise, China will attack and invade Taiwan.  African countries would not be physically involved, but their allegiances will dictate their degree of participation.  Australia and New Zealand will support the UK in every way possible while maintaining a "ring of steel" around their coastal waters. Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia will keep their heads down.  NATO would eventually win the contest with Russia being occupied and placed under a UN or NATO governing body.  Timeframe 2 to 5 years.  Timeframe for a return to normality 20 to 30 years.

We should hope for the former but prepare for the latter scenario and never trust the word of the Russians.

London, April 9th, 2022  


7 March 2022

For Evil To Prevail, Good Men Need Only Do Nothing.........

 With the war in Ukraine raging as I type this, visiting death, destruction and terror on the innocent and totally bewildered people of that ancient land, I cannot remain silent.  Here is part of a letter that I wrote to a friend recently, which illustrates my thoughts on the subject:

"I always thought myself fortunate that I was born at the end of WW2 and not before.   I was born at the dawn of a new age, when war was going to be consigned to the bin and the future was going to be shiny and bright and peaceful.   The wars of Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia and Iraq were excused as policing actions with the purpose of maintaining that state of peaceful optimism.   Now, in February 2022, it would sadly appear that the world is on the brink of WW3.   All it takes is one megalomaniac with sufficient power and authority to impose his will on subordinates who are mesmerised by his persona and fooled by his false justifications.

In my view, Putin will not stop with Ukraine.   He will want all of the former Soviet Union states such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Czechia and Slovakia.   If he succeeds, he will then want Poland.  His ambition is to recreate the old Soviet Union.  This is his remedy for Russia's economic woes.   None of this can be allowed to happen, and the only way to prevent it will be to destroy his regime in Russia.  As things stand at this moment, that will only be possible by use of force.  That means WW3.  And if anyone, anytime, is foolish enough to use a nuclear weapon,  we will have armageddon.    How China, North Korea, India and Pakistan play their cards is still unclear.   So far, the punitive sanctions that have been imposed on Russia aren't worth a row of beans in the short term and in the short term, he will destroy Ukraine.  It takes months if not years for economic sanctions to have any severe effect.   Putin will circumvent most of them by using China and still starve the west of oil and gas.  He holds the trump (sic) cards."

Putin is using the reluctance of NATO and the EU to do anything that could result in a response by Russia that would trigger the NATO Common Defense Clause of the NATO charter, as a deterrent.   (At the present time,  NATO has 30 members. In 1949, there were 12 founding members of the Alliance: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The other member countries are: Greece and Turkey (1952), Germany (1955), Spain (1982), the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland (1999), Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia (2004), Albania and Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017) and North Macedonia (2020).

"Why is it that the Prince of Darkness always manages to find a compliant host to execute his will?  The list is long and goes back to the dawn of history.  As mankind has become more powerful and technically advanced, the death and destruction wrought on the innocent have been equally enhanced.  Now we have Putin.  I fear that Biden is not the man to stand up to him in a meaningful way, and that Trump will use developments in Ukraine to sabre rattle his way into office once again in 2024."

A nuclear war is unthinkable.  Putin does not seem to agree and has threatened the west by placing his nuclear forces on standby.  This is the act of an unstable and irrational man.  I fear that I will not live long enough to witness Putin getting his comeuppance but I will encourage, in whatever small way I can in the time that I have, Good Men to Do Something! 


The deliberate destruction of a paediatric and maternity hospital in Mariupol on March 9th by Russian forces is a clear and undeniable crime against humanity, which will be one more example of the evidence put forward at the International Court in The Hague when, at some future date, it sits to determine the extent of the war crimes committed by Vladimir Putin and his military commanders during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Putin (I will not dignify him by using the title “President”) would be well advised to consider this in the immediate future, for it is certain that the Court will issue international warrants for the arrest and detention of himself and his military commanders as soon as circumstances permit.