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Home town thoughts

December 13, 2017 9 comments

It amazed me, gladdened a few and perhaps amused many to read that Coventry has been named City of Culture 2021. It’s hardly a natural epithet for a city whose history might better be described as dour, bordering on tragic. Oh yes, it’s had its moments of industrial¬† significance (is that the word?) with Frank Whittle’s jet engine and a string of well-known badges gracing its car factories. But genuine culture is harder to discern. Does Mary Ann Evans count? She was born nearby in Nuneaton but lived in the city for some years as she became the noted novelist George Eliot. A bit ponderous for my taste.

But soft ! (etc.) What about Philip Larkin whose only widely known poem starts with a very rude observation? Yes, he counts as culture and he went to ‘my’ grammar school. Even more significantly his poems are imbued with a fatalistic gloom that is an essential part of being a Midlander.

So here’s one of his best poems, Afternoons, written in 1959.

Summer is fading:
The leaves fall in ones and twos
From trees bordering
The new recreation ground.
In the hollows of afternoons
Young mothers assemble
At swing and sandpit
Setting free their children. Read more…

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1963

December 6, 2017 5 comments

My reader may not remember 1963, owing to age or wha’ever, but it was a year when the Tories had little local difficulties as potentially disastrous as their current turmoil. They also made prurient reading – often referred to as the Keeler affairs, with her famous beau, Cabinet Minister John Profumo and a Russian diplomat, Yevgeny Ivanov.

We were entertained by Christine Keeler’s fellow ‘escort’, Mandy Rice-Davies, immortalised by her comment in Court when confronted by a Defence Barrister: ”Well ‘e would say that, wouldn’t ‘e?”

The gubmint fell and Labour’s Harold Wilson became PM.

https://news.sky.com/story/profumo-affairs-christine-keeler-dies-at-75-11157992

The simple truth

December 4, 2017 44 comments

I think it would be fair to say that Britain has not always dealt with Ireland fairly or squarely. Think famine and the Troubles. But I have always wondered why the Protestant Sect in the north has been allowed to create endless mayhem when it has been obvious that the best solution would have been a united, independent Ireland. There are enough precedents around the world that would support the idea.

Of course it won’t happen but I’ve had anough of the tail wagging the dog over there. And now the Republic wants to impede progress with Brexit. Typical.

Frocks

November 13, 2017 21 comments

And that’s only the boys, if Archbishop Welby has his Christmas wish. (Sorry to mention the C word in mid-November, but M & S started it.)

Read more…

All topped out at last

November 12, 2017 9 comments

Thanks to 12 daytime periods of rain, it took the friendly thatcher nine weeks to complete the renovations. And last Friday a symbolic shower accompanied the traditional ceremony of topping out, flags ‘n all. We stood outside to enjoy a red sausage with a bread roll, mustard and ketchup dips, washed down with probably the best beer Denmark can offer. Believe it or not, that really is the traditional fare for such occasions!

He recalled that he himself had re-thatched parts of this same roof 25 years ago – and could even remember the details of his earlier work, replacing some rough-hewn battens with modern planed timbers, by now specified as to quality and dimensions by the building authorities. Not surprisingly, the latest requirements take account of the burgeoning girth of the craftsmen they must support!

Skål! Og vi ses! (Probably not.)

Don’t be silly

October 22, 2017 7 comments

It must be the proliferation of wannabe journalists that’s responsible for the ridiculous attention given to the American festival of Halloween – in shops and in the meeja. Because if nobody wrote about such rubbish, nobody else would find it interesting to participate in such childish games.

Read more…

Signing up

October 18, 2017 19 comments

I missed conscription by about one year – although as a university entrant I would probably have deferred my ‘national service’ for four years. A work colleague who had done that in the early ’50s found himself actively involved in the Suez Crisis in ’56. Frying pans and fires come to mind. Neither of us could be dubbed macho or a natural warrior and his tales of derring-do were mostly ironic; although duty had to be done and he like millions of others might have died doing it.

But a career in the the professional military is a whole nuther thing than that, ain’t it? It involves a willing acceptance of the conditions and probabilities – a choice not available to the conscript. That is particularly true, I imagine, of special forces activities – even if I have only Hollywwood and the telly for evidence.

So for once, Don the One has a point. The soldier who died in Niger this month did know what he’d signed up for; but as so often Trump’s sense of occasion and timing (let alone respect) leaves much to be desired. His own alleged avoidance of the Draft suggests his duty genes are also flawed.

Nostalgia

October 12, 2017 7 comments

I noticed today that access to Oxford centre will be restricted to electric vehicles by 2020. Great idea, close to my heart. Read more…

Self-determination

October 6, 2017 26 comments

Sam’s the man!

September 19, 2017 8 comments

My reader may have noticed on his/her cyber-trek that Google has just celebrated the anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s 308th birthday. He was undoubtedly its predecessor – lexicographically speaking – before the more modern encyclopedias appeared. And his dictionary reflected his character as a poet, wit and literary compiler. Read more…