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The spare

June 26, 2017 8 comments

One’s children cannot all have the Big Job. Since the cradle the Heir’s siblings have known they would be onlookers in history – although George VI had to step in from the bleachers when his brother succumbed to his flaws. And George was not a classic example of the more extravert, younger upstart – yet another of Fate’s ironies. Perhaps that epithet fits Margaret and Andrew better. And Harry, who clearly wishes to kick over the traces and feels frustrated by his obligations.

To misquote the NT: the royal family is in the world but not of it. But since WWII they have gradually accepted and even sought a more public rõle, to try to keep in step with other changes: the weakening class divisions, global travel, television, the internet, social media……and the cult of celebrity, with their total exposure and lack of privacy. And the Spares have naturally claimed more freedom to roam, attracted more media attention for their trouble and agonised over the ambiguity of it all.

No novelist could have invented Harry’s story. He ticks every psychological and social box and will probably continue to keep us enthralled. It’s what spares do.

 

One of those voices

June 23, 2017 18 comments

Entertainment in the ’50s and ’60s was all about sound, not so much about images. The wireless played a leading rõle in family life, with the morning pips reminding us we were already late, the evening news gathering us together at 6 o’clock and favourite programmes on weekdays and at weekends. And in our house the cricket coverage was eagerly awaited, especially the voice of John Arlott.

So it was probably my generation of listeners who first welcomed what is now known as TMS; a sporting institution. Down the years Brian Johnston (sans the ‘e’) and his younger pupils have bemused and amused us every year.

But Henry Blofeld has been a star in the firmament, with erudition and wit we should hardly expect from a mere sport programme. And now he too is going to retire.

Thank you, Bloers!

Time for others

June 7, 2017 7 comments

By coincidence, after I’d seen many reports of people going the extra mile during the latest terrorist outrages, I saw an article in the Beeb’s travel pages about a Greek word nobody, even Greeks, can translate satisfactorily. It’s ‘philotimo’ (from the ancient Greek φιλοτιμία which appears in Homer and Pindar). Down the centuries the meaning segued from ‘ambition to impress’ to ‘altruism’ and ‘doing the right thing’ and these days seems to hover somewhere in between those apparently contradictory concepts.

Did the ancients see a connection there, I wonder. Did they reckon acts of kindness might be motivated, perhaps subconsciously, by a desire to appear virtuous, a wish to deserve praise?

Anyway, see what you think! Just askin’.

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20170605-the-greek-word-that-cant-be-translated

Categories: History, Nature, Techo stuff

Foiled again *

May 17, 2017 19 comments

I have a soft spot for Kit Kat, having cut my marketing teeth in the Rowntree KK team in York in the ’60s. It was already a veteran, 30 years old and making its first £1 million contribution to profits while I was there. The trademark battle then was about the tag line, ‘have a break’, which Cadbury and others were trying to dilute with their own snacks promotion. They lost. And now, another 50 years on, the ‘four-finger shape mark’ is the focus and in the UK (but not everywhere) Cadbury are successfully opposing it. I can’t guess what profits the old guy makes now but Nestlè clearly intends to protect them.

  • headline courtesy the Grauniad

A handbag?

May 13, 2017 15 comments

There’s a plan to honour Maggie with a statue in Parliament Square. And why not? The Iron Lady was responsible for so much that needed to be done in the ’80s. Even the Poll Tax, her downfall, was well-intentioned. Is there a fairer, less discriminatory way to tax a population? Scargill and his ilk were bankrupting British industry. And Argentina needed a good slap, even when the Americas couldn’t work up the enthusiasm to agree.

Her daughter, Carol wants her image to carry her iconic handbag, but this new work omits it. It certainly epitomises Maggie’s approach to Europe.

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/plans-lodged-for-10ft-statue-of-margaret-thatcher-handbag-not-included-a3537761.html

Turn left?

May 11, 2017 9 comments

Where to start with the new socialist manifesto, leaked (or was it launched?) by Corbyn’s Labour party? Read more…

Clutching at straws

April 28, 2017 8 comments

northern-ireland-customs-post-390x285Before German unification, the EU agreed a ‘GDR clause’, allowing easy access in the event of liberation. And now could N. Ireland be offered a similar deal when Brexit bites? Apparently the diplomatic community thinks so.

Just a couple of details to consider though. The province is fiercely British and unlikely to vote for integration with Eire; and Eire would be taking responsibilty for the N.I. economy – which is hardly high on their wish-list.

Recent reports however suggest that many EU leaders might be starting to see the folly of aggressive negotiations with London, perhaps under the influence of big business which will demand a seamless transition to the new order, and the growing threat from Beleavers in other EU states. Will they agree a strategy when they get together this weekend?

 

εὕρηκα

April 24, 2017 19 comments

Now showing in a Hertfordshire garden. Not a crime shed. Maybe he’d just found his dog, always worth celebrating.

Categories: Gardening, History, Photography

Now that’s what I call a grandfather clause!

April 19, 2017 28 comments

The Grauniad claims an exclusive – the story that the Danish gubmint plans to oppose Britain’s bid to reclaim control of its coastal waters to the exclusion of ‘traditional’ fishing partners. Apparently the Danes will present a legal case based on custom and practice dating back to the 1400s which will permit DK to continue net 40% of their catch in British waters – and the whole EU fleet to source a third of its fish there too.

Shades of Kirk Kent and the Viking invasion in 1983? Yes, which suggests the true precedent is the status quo prior to that, whereby Britain was in control! Since then the EU ‘accord’ has decimated the British fleet and allowed all and sundry to fish around our islands.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/18/denmark-to-contest-uk-efforts-to-take-back-control-of-fisheries

Progress or wha’?

April 12, 2017 9 comments

King Donald would have made a fine Tudor monarch. Of course the pace of life has picked up since the arrival of instant communications and almost as instant travel; but the priorities remain the same. Top of the list: the acquisition and control of personal/family wealth, the pursuit of personal pleasure and when there’s time, the interests of the state (which for the Tudors included the church). Read more…