Dame Vera Lynn passed away at a spry, youthful 103. She was one of the last members of a great generation, a generation that went through the Great Depression, the Second World War and the Cold War. She represented something increasingly rare in today’s vulgar world: class, decency, humility and grace. Even though she has not recorded new music for some time, her retirement was well-earned and she certainly accomplished more than enough in her lifetime, the fact that she remains so instantly recognisable, so well-loved, stands as a testament to her great talent and presence. She will be missed.
The process of decolonisation was complex and sometimes fraught. There were times when the best efforts at maintaining unity came apart — India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are good examples of this. At times, there was something that looked good on paper and would, had it worked out, have resulted in good results. The West Indian Federation is a classic example of this. (The Central American Republic is another, but that’s for another discussion) But sometimes, a situation was complex enough that it required an entirely different set of measures. Continue reading “A bit overdue?”
I write this at a time that I should have been packing up for a flight to Denmark before continuing on to California. I’m clearly not. Rather, I’m sitting in suburban Trier listening to the sound of aeroplanes flying to and from Luxembourg. Passenger flights remain suspended, but cargo flights are still coming and going. Continue reading “Life in a Time of Covid”
I have followed the case of Cardinal George Pell with interest. Cardinal Pell, as many of my cherished co-Charioteers will know, was convicted last year of raping two boys at his cathedral in Melbourne. After the initial appeal was rejected 2-1, the High Court of Australia overturned his conviction 7-0. Continue reading “The Redemption?”
For some comic relief.
Tranquebar is a small town in India. More specifically, it’s a small town in Tamil Nadu. In and of itself it isn’t all that remarkable. There are a lot of towns in India, many smaller than Tranquebar, many more towns vastly larger. What makes Tranquebar interesting is that it was once a Danish trading outpost. Denmark had great ambitions, but little ability to really force their will on anyone. Denmark’s colonial holdings were, thus, modest. Denmark was among the first countries with overseas colonies to divest itself of them. It sold Tranquebar to the British East India Company in 1845. It sold the Danish West Indies to the United States in 1917 when they became the United States Virgin Islands. Continue reading “Tranquebar”
After August, Holden will exist no more. GM, true to form, accepted billions in dosh before turning tail and running. A number of Australians complained about that. They should not be surprised. After American taxpayers bailed them out, they simply moved production to China to boost their profits and cut costs — the long-struggling Michigan and Ohio economies be damned.
Naturally, various excuses were made. The most pitiful one was that Holden struggled due to the fragmentation of right-hand-drive vehicle markets. Sure, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are no more geographically remote from each other than, say, North America, continental Europe and Brazil. Another slightly pitiful excuse was that it was difficult to keep a brand going when it only exited in two markets — Australia and New Zealand. That point is fairer, but it ignores the basic premise that Holden had, for a long time, been a repackaged Opel/Vauxhall with some Australian features.
Whatever one thinks, it’s a blow. Holden was well and truly an Australian icon. With the years, there is less and less that makes countries, societies distinct, that makes a region feel like a region. Holden was Australian, it was a part of Australian life and society. Now, it’s the same Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Hyundai or Lexus you can find anywhere.
The Celts have, once again, managed to make the news. A few days ago Derek Mackay, formerly Wee Krankie’s right-hand man and an SNP cabinet member was forced out of the SNP and the cabinet after getting caught pesting a 16-year-old schoolboy. This is horrifying, but not entirely unexpected for the SNP. They have rather a history of dodgy members. A pity, really. Scotland is a beautiful country and I have a deep reserve of goodwill for many Scots.
Now, the Irish have managed to make headlines for their seeming embrace of Sinn Fein. Fine Gael and Fiona Fail, after generations of dominance, have been marginalised. Fiona Fail have never recovered from the damage they took as a consequence of Lesser Britain’s severe economic turmoil some 10-12 year ago. Fine Gael have done little to endear themselves to the Irish public. Sinn Fein, a vile mob of terrorists, have capitalised on the general uselessness of the traditional ruling parties. Whilst I personally have no interest either way in what happens in the southern 26 counties of the Lesser Britain, I do worry that this will have a spill-on effect in Ulster.
One of the great joys of living alone or, rather, without close relatively in close vicinity is that I do not have to care much about Christmas. Continue reading “Christmas Dread”
My mother managed to survive Air Canada, although she isn’t in a big hurry to repeat the experience. It wasn’t so much the airline, it wasn’t terribly bad, but it wasn’t terribly good, either. Rather, it was the mess that is Toronto Pearson and the complexities of getting through Canadian and US customs. Continue reading “Through England”