Via Peguin Books
Imagine inventing a new word to describe something undesirable only to find that the word quickly becomes part of common language but with its original usage completely reversed. Then consider the sorry experience of minor politician and sociologist Michael Young.
Credited with drafting large chunks of Labour`s 1945 manifesto, Young played a major part in securing a landslide victory for Clement Attlee and the almost unthinkable defeat of Sir Winston Churchill at the conclusion of the Second World War. The 1944 Butler Education Act established free and universal education and set the school leaving age at 15. It also introduced the tripartite system of education featuring grammar schools, secondary technical schools and secondary modern schools. In theory, comprehensive schools would combine features of all three streams. Allocation of school places was determined by academic examination when a child reached the age of 11. The results of a maths test, a general essay and a third test on general reasoning would define the child as a member of the elite, someone who could be trusted with expensive machinery or a basic manual labourer expected to be grateful for the chance at any education at all. (more…)
Duel between Onegin and Lenski – Ilya Repin 1899
In these enlightened times of character assassination by sound bite, gossip and actual defamation, it is interesting to look back at a more chivalrous age when aristocratic politicians desperate to wield power would demand satisfaction from opponents by taking up rapiers or by the challenge of pistols at dawn. The noble heritage of snotty-nosed inbred yet wealthy imbeciles nominating themselves for the Darwin Awards in the name of saving face or some misplaced notion of self-importance is an honour code that deserves revival given the arrant nonsense, cant, garbage, perfidy and unmitigated testicles currently being spouted by snotty-nosed inbred yet wealthy imbeciles on both sides of the European argument. (more…)
Picasso sketch 1964
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention to describe just how bloody wonderful it is to be an Englishman living in these joyous times.
Firstly we celebrated 90 glorious years of divine monarchy dedicating a lifetime of hollow crown duty by waving a lot and having to endure the permanent smell of fresh paint. Then we commemorated our holy English values as epitomised by our noble patron Saint George. As with most versions of English history, George`s origins and ethnicity are a little vague. He might have been born in Cappadocia which would make him a Turk or he might have been born in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina which roughly translates as either Syria or Palestine. What is certain is that he was not born within the concrete O of the M25, he did not speak English and his dragon slaying activities took place far away from Albion in a place called Beirut. Crying God for Harry, England and Agios Georgios might make you sound… well… a bit foreign. (more…)
The tradition of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest pre-dates the Pilgrim Fathers of Plymouth Rock, all organised religions and probably even the invention of recognisable clothing. After successfully hunter-gathering the roots, berries and mammoth steaks, what better way to celebrate than pulling on the Sunday best and eating until physical activity is rendered impossible.
Fleeing from intolerance, religious oppression, imprisonment and summary execution, England Dissenters migrated first to Holland and then undertook a perilous voyage across treacherous seas to reach a new world offering a land of the free and a home for the brave. Many died in that first harsh winter but, according to legend, the colony managed to survive due to its endurance, toil and by the grace of God. Another version suggests that the local Native Americans took pity and shared their food only to be rewarded with the European gift of smallpox. (more…)
The absolute joy of existing in an infinite and expanding universe is the certainty that the space-time continuum will continue to throw up some astonishing surprises. Who on earth could ever have imagined that FIFA actually has an actual ethics committee or that Michael Gove would actually do something useful by reversing the barking mad decisions made by failing Grayling at the Ministry of Justice. Pensioners in the House of Lords might pay good money for being put to the lash but a pensioner in a Saudi prison might be bad for business. With friends like Saudi Arabia, who needs extraterrestrial aliens with vaporising death rays? Obviously the government will engage in a “dialogue” with the bug-eyed silicone based life-forms from somewhere beyond Alpha Centauri in the hope of flogging them some lovely weaponry. (more…)