The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for the 'History' Category

Why Guy Fawkes Is Just The Right Role Model for The Occupy Protesters…

The Occupy protesters in the UK and USA have apparently adopted Guy Fawkes as their role model.

That figures…

For many years he had been a soldier in the Spanish army sent to crush the Dutch rebels who were fighting to win their independence

He was a terrorist who did not mind killing hundreds of people in his attempt to kill King James I

He wanted to turn England into a client state of Spain

He planned to kidnap the young daughter of King James and educate her as a Catholic to rule over a largely Protestant England as a puppet Queen using the Spanish Inquisition to suppress those who opposed the influence of Rome and Spain

By the beginning of the 1600s the English Parliament was beginning to see itself as a counter balance to the power of the monarchy – Fawkes and his Spanish minders believed Catholic monarchs ruled by divine right and should not be challenged

So…let’s see….

Guy Fawkes =Soldier in an army of occupation +Terrorist +Traitor +Kidnapper + Fanatic + Hater of an elected parliament….

Come to think of it – that mask is a perfect fit for those Occupiers…

posted by david in History,Politics,UK Politics,USA Politics and have Comments Off on Why Guy Fawkes Is Just The Right Role Model for The Occupy Protesters…

The Airman’s Grave

In a spot of surpassing peace and beauty on a lonely hillside in the Ashdown Forest in Sussex we often pause for a while at The Airman’s Grave. It is not really a grave but a memorial to brave young men who gave their tomorrows for our today.

In July 1941 a RAF Wellington bomber was returning from a raid over Germany. In bad weather and with only one engine working it crashed onto a hill in the Ashdown Forest, killing the six crew members. A little while after the crash the mother of Sgt Vic Sutton, the 2nd pilot, came to live in the nearby village of Nutley and had a simple wooden cross placed near the site of the crash in memory of her son and his five comrades.

Over the years the Forest Rangers have looked after the memorial, replacing the original cross with one of stone, planting a small garden and finally building a wall to keep the forest sheep away from the plants.

Each year in November, on Remembrance Sunday, hundreds of people gather on the sloping hillside to honour the memory of these men and all others who gave their lives and futures so that we may live free from being terrorised by evil men who wish us harm.

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

posted by david in History,UK,War and have Comments Off on The Airman’s Grave

Peace and Tranquility – Pictures of an English Garden…

…if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden…

These days on the cusp between September and October have been gloriously sunny and warm so it seemed appropriate for us to take a wander around nearby Sheffield Park. With grassy slopes, peaceful lakes and sweeping trees it’s a fitting memorial to the genius of Lancelot “Capability” Brown who originally laid it out 250 years ago.

Brown and other pioneers of English 18th century garden design rejected the formal, geometric patterns of the French tradition, exemplified by Versailles. Instead they endeavoured to create an ideal landscape reflecting the English countryside.

Rolling lawns, clumps of trees, all outlined against the sky and mirrored by the waters of lakes and pools, each one edged with paths and crossed by elegantly sculptured bridges….

Brown likened his work to that of the poet..”Here I put a comma, there, when it’s necessary to cut the view, I put a parenthesis; there I end it with a period and start on another theme.”

One key point to remember is that this could never be “instant” gardening….it had to be a vision that might take as long as fifty years to reach its final flourish.

He that plants trees loves others beside himself

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in

Over the years subsequent generations have developed the garden in sympathy with Brown’s vision. On one edge is a path leading upwards….

….to a cricket pitch, laid out by a nineteenth century owner. Still the venue for rural enthusiasts to strive for local glory it also has an important place in the history of England’s cricketing annals for hosting one of the earliest matches between England and Australia in 1884.

The photographer photographed….by my Blackberry…

posted by david in Gardens,History,Outdoors,UK and have Comments Off on Peace and Tranquility – Pictures of an English Garden…

How To Cut A Self Important And Intrusive Interviewer Down To Size Politely But Firmly……

Clement Attlee was the the leader of the British Labour Party 1935-55, served as Winston Churchill’s deputy in the WW2 Coalition and led the Labour government of 1945-51. A lawyer, he volunteered for the British army immediately war broke out in 1914 and saw action in Turkey, Iraq and France.

He was a man of few words and had little time for the media.

Just before the 1951 election he was badgered by a radio interviewer as he was on his way to a meeting

Interviewer: On what will Labour take its stand?

Attlee: Well, that’s what we shall be announcing shortly.

Interviewer: What are your immediate plans Mr Attlee?

Attlee: My immediate plans are to go down to a committee to decide on just that thing as soon as I can get away from here.

Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the coming election?

Attlee: No.

…and he walked away.

If only modern politicians were as terse – and honest….

Exit question – is Sarah Palin is doing a Clem Attlee on the US media but from a different side of the field?

posted by david in History,UK Politics and have Comments Off on How To Cut A Self Important And Intrusive Interviewer Down To Size Politely But Firmly……

Why Does Hollywood Ignore The Collapse Of Communism?

On a freezing December day family and friends trudge through snow carrying a coffin to the edge of a bleak graveyard. Ten other coffins follow behind. Eleven men are being buried on that wintry morning, eleven miners shot by police and soldiers, crushed by a brutal regime for daring to demand the right to strike in defiance of a decree promulgated by the ruling elite.

It is an iconic image of working class families beaten but unbowed by the vicious and ruthless security apparatus of an authoritarian government. Off camera hard eyed riot police ensure that the funeral does not transform into an anti government rally. Plain clothes security officers and police informers mingle with the crowd listening out for any whispered manifestation of discontent. Wives, mothers and children of the slaughtered strikers sob quietly for their lost ones. Grieving fathers, brothers, sons and fellow miners mourn in bitter silence, fearful of saying anything that would bring police batons smashing onto their heads….

It would seem a natural scenario for a Hollywood film or a BBC play or a Bruce Springsteen album cover….brave strikers…..brutal police……the proud but silent funeral…..but it is highly unlikely you would ever see this story win an Oscar, a BAFTA or a Grammy. For the striking miners were Polish, the year was 1981 and the regime that ordered the shooting down of defiant miners was a Marxist/Leninist dictatorship struggling to crush a peaceful mass movement  demanding basic human rights – and that sits uncomfortably on the shoulders of many writers and directors and musicians who, though immensely rich, perceive themselves as radical activists of the left using their undoubted artistic talents and skills fighting for the underprivileged in support of Marx’s electrifying slogan

Workers of the world unite – you have nothing to lose but your chains

But if those chains have been hung on you by Communist rulers – that doesn’t fit too easily into the world view of some on the left. So the Chomskys  and the Redgraves and the Fondas tend to put it outside their vision – they ignore it…..and thus what appears to be one of the major seismic events of the Twentieth Century, the political and intellectual and moral collapse of Marxism in Europe has never been  the theme of any major western movie or music album. Nor has there been any artistic declaration of regret or plea for redemption from those in America and Western Europe who for decades prostituted their intellect and values by acting as cheerleaders and apologists for the bullies, thieves and torturers who ruled the Soviet empire and it’s lackey states.

The miners at Wujek were striking as an act of defiance against General Jaruzelski’s declaration of Martial Law in December 1981. The General  had become Prime Minister determined to crush all resistance to the Communist regime after several months of strikes and demonstrations. Unofficial trade union activities were banned, thousands of people were arrested and dragged before military tribunals and strict censorship was imposed on all forms of media and communication. Tanks and heavily armed soldiers and special police units patrolled the streets in an aggressive and confrontational manner and the government decided to deal with the miners of Wujek in a way that would send a lesson of fear and terror to all its opponents.

The miners had occupied the mine as a demonstration of defiance against the regime. A huge force of soldiers and riot police, accompanied by tanks and armoured cars, broke into the mining complex. The miners resisted fiercely, fighting back with picks, shovels and bricks. Finally an officer commanding a special police unit ordered his men to open fire on the miners, killing eleven of them and wounding many more. This broke the strikers resistance and the mine was brought back under government control.

There were critical comments in the west but the Marxist/Leninist regimes had long ago discounted western “opinion” as empty rhetoric. Jaruzelski , like all communists, believed that bullets were more effective than words when resistance needed crushing. He even solicited advice from Hungarian colleagues who had organised the repression of the 1956 anti communist uprising. He also took heart from western communists like the British miners union leader Arthur Scargill who remained silent over the fate of his fellow miners in Poland.

One day, perhaps, the implosion of the Marxist/Leninist charade will attract some future Victor Hugo or Charles Dickens to chart it’s ignominious collapse in soaring prose and golden epithets.

For the time being, unfortunately, we shall have to put up with Sean Penn…..

Footnote #1

At least it might be claimed that those eleven Wujek miners and others killed by Poland’s communist security forces did not die in vain. Poland is now a lively democracy and a member of NATO and the EU, free at last from Marxism’s iron grip. The remnants of the Jaruzeski regime are mostly mouldering away in ignominious retirement. Even better, some former members of the security apparatus have been brought to book for their actions at Wujek and elsewhere. Outside the Wujek mine is a stark memorial for the victims of repression.

Who knows, perhaps one day similar monuments will rise up to the sky in Beijing and Tehran….

Footnote #2

For an intensely moving pictorial and personal review of Polish resistance to Communist dictatorship go here…..

posted by david in Communism,Europe,History and have Comments (2)

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