Thursday, 26 May 2011


One of the most important principles taught to us two Millennia ago is that enshrined in Matthew 22:39 when The Lord quietly reminded us all that it is incumbent upon us all to love our neighbours as ourselves. In contemporary society - don't just think of yourselves but think of those around you.

"Oh no. That was then. And that's just Jesus outlining a principle which was okay for then, but in the real world, today's world, is not practical."

We have the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament. We also have the principle referred to above and which, upon closer inspection of the passage that we find The Man Christ Jesus referring to as being none other than the Scripture outlined in the Scroll of Leviticus, or what we today refer to as the Book of Leviticus 19:18.

Look it up for yourself. He was quoting a Scripture that was already a couple of millennia in standing.

I've been brought up, as all my generation have been, with that as the cornerstone; and even if not a Christian, it will be found as a cornerpiece of every organised religion or system or belief and faith. It is practical. It is streetwise. It is a principle by which we should all live. When we ignore it, we have injustices which are bad enough when they stand alone. Heaped together, they eventually add up to a Holocaust or two. Exaggeration? Yes, if you do not bother following history. If you do follow history, you'll probably be saying I'm not stressing the point strongly enough.

When we ignore this principle, however we look at it, we do so because we put into place the cornerstone of selfishness.

In September 1939, even though we could do nothing immediately practical to assist the Polish People, we nevertheless acted as we had promised. We 'dared' to declare war on a monstrous tyrant who had not, until then, experienced such a kick up the backside of his pomposity and evil. History reports that Hitler was as one turned to stone, and further reports Herman Goering, that tyrant's Head of the Luftwaffe, remarking "May God have mercy upon us if we lose this War!"

When we realise that something is amiss; that our next door neighbour might be going through some hassle, it is late 20th and current 21st century thinking to utter those detestable words, 'it is not my problem', resting as it does on that equally irresponsible premise: 'out of sight, out of mind'.

Being ex police, ex military and of course being a probate lawyer for 30 years, has emphasised the importance of Matthew 22:39 and Leviticus 19:18. Many a morning starts off with two or three death certificates being placed on my desk and an instruction to my secretary to call out the last will and testament and then for me to make that fateful call to the next of kin.

I recall, at 16, being called out on parade at RAF Locking at 11am one Friday and the Squadron being informed by the Padre that Colin, with whom Don and I had been playing putting shot on Wednesday night on the green in Weston-Super-Mare, had died that morning after collapsing on military exercise on Thursday morning. I recall too the heroic efforts of Mike Barnett who eventually received a commendation for doing all he could to save Colin. He too went on to a very distinguished military career.

I recall the lady who died as I knelt by her in the middle of the Tewkesbury Road dual carriageway and not one car stopping to assist me, then a 20 year old policeman, whilst I and another pedestrian attempted resuscitation pending arrival of the ambulance; on another day another lady who had decided it was all too much for her, and pulling her out of the icy waters of Pittville Lake, Cheltenham; I remember the 'suction' caused by my shin length belted gaberdine over my tunic making movement difficult; I remember the young Mum trying to keep her children in order as she too pulled this very gracious lady to the bank, all the time apologising for the problems she thought she was causing. She too later that day succumbed, but in every incident that I have attended I remember, without exception, the extreme courage of the ambulance crews, A&E staffs, the incredible resolve, kindness and decisive precision of the nurses, doctors and registrars - "all in a day's work" as they would humbly respond if it was ever commented upon.

If something appears amiss, respond, don't pass by on the other side.

Two passed by on the other side; the third was a Samaritan who was expected to pass by but stopped and saved a young man's life.

Every single one of us, from the highest to the lowest, from the most senior to the most junior, has a responsibility to our immediate neighbour. If our neighbour appears to be in some sort of trouble, and we respond by trying to hide, obscure or deaden any sound, then there will be a reckoning. If we ring that simple number that has sirens on the horizon within minutes or less, well done. It matters not that a door might be broken down in the process. A door might be broken but a life will be saved.

Responding to help is something that comes very, very naturally to our armed forces and emergency services and those who used to serve. To the older generation, those who are over 30, likewise. To those who work in restaurants, coffee shops as managers, waiters, baristas, etc, likewise. It is always wonderful to see how young people interact and learn this vital principle. To other young people such responses are the stuff of TV Soaps - "Oh, I didn't realise this stuff happened for real. But even if it does, it's not my problem."

I've learned much over the last four weeks. As I look about the library of my mind and see the windows blasted, and slowly go about putting all the books and files of memory neatly back on the shelves, it makes me realise what a privilege it was to serve with the people I did, the way they came to my rescue and even in these past few days to talk with friends who themselves served in the Royal Navy, who have that instinctive understanding; to have that reassurance from all those young people in service industries, the laughing and joking and putting books and files back in place.

The other week I was sat down quietly in the City and thinking about, of all things, the Liverpool Blitz. For the briefest moment there was a flash. Luminescent. In my mind's eye I stooped and placed the file on the shelf of my mind. What did it say?

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13.2

I report only an incredible sense of peace, and an absolute certainty about our origin and future and our individual responsibility.

Ian Bradley Marshall
May 26 2011

Monday, 2 May 2011


So speaks Adam Brookes, the BBC political commentator speaking from the BBC's agency in Washington DC this morning.

9/11 - 2/5 It has been a long haul, just a little less than ten years in fact, and thousands of lives have been lost along the way. The most chilling footage this morning is from 1998 when Osama Bin Laden gave a televised interview to America's ABC network. He stated bluntly that he did not have the constraints of the West, namely, the need to distinguish between military targets and innocent civilians. This man emphasised that if that person was American, then that person was a legitimate target, a fact we saw played out with grim determination less than 3 years later when the twin towers came down.

There are times when it is necessary to take the retributive action that has resulted in Bin Laden's death, without forewarning the host nation if that nation cannot guarantee security of information.

Pakistan alas has a long history of too many people within its intelligence services being double-agents, so the US President had no alternative but to authorise the action in confidence. On this occasion it was the right thing to do. But let it not set the precedent for the future.

The euphoria in Times Square and Washington is understandable. Let that quickly dissipate and let us as a world community move on, remaining even more vigilant and ready for the inevitable reprisals from people with twisted and demented ideologies.

Ian Bradley Marshall
2 May 2011