Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Carry On Anywhere

With the number of channels for choice there are many films now available to see on TV. But we do not want to watch many. It is us or them? What about fifty years ago when we did watch films quite often? One answer to that was that TV was so limited then that film going was usual.

Looking at the net for the UK films of 1968, the half century, perhaps there are a good many films that we did see. There were some recalled. There was "Where Eagles Dare" see the opening minutes. One was "The Lion In Winter" presented as historical but in effect hokum fiction albeit well done with major actors in the cast. There was "Oliver" picking a pocket or two and many others that have lasted the years.

One was "Carry On Up The Khyber" where the "Carry On" team went into colour in one of their lurches into history, but not as we know it. The film is about the brave kilted 3rd Foot & Mouth Regiment faced with a the rebellious Khasi of Khalabar who has learned from the Warlord Bungdit Din that they are not to be feared as they wear underpants.

In truth it is only a Private Widdle that does because of a personal problem and in breach of regimental orders. After a good deal of confusing coming and going the Brit's are victorious by means of raising their kilts in the face of the enemy. However, the film was given the date of 1895 as its setting, which raised the eyebrow.

What exactly was going on in that period in the sub continent in the way of military actions? On checking it out, might the film makers have been aware that this was the period of a notable campaign? It was certainly up the Khyber and in the district of Malakand. My first thought was for Auckland Colvin (Wikipedia), sometime Treasurer of India and Governor of the North West Provinces.

But he retired in 1893 moving to Framlingham in Suffolk, perhaps seeking more excitement. In 1897 however, there was conflict in Malakand and a major siege of British Indian forces by the locals. Among the commanders of the British forces was Bindon Blood (Wikipedia), the son-in-law of Colvin, and he won a famous victory.

So much so, that in 1898 an up and coming soldier, writer, and journalist wrote a book about it dedicated to Blood; he was Winston Churchill. The mixture is a rich one and a striking example of Imperial Britain in action in that period. It is a history now mostly lost and that period being now one we are told to ignore and forget because it was an imperialism of an elite. Parliament then was elected only by a minority of male voters and the House of Lords supreme.

We are left to imagine an India of diverse peoples and faiths, all happy in that state and being nice to each other who came under the heel of British rulers and war makers. That the Raj was in fact a British attempt to curtail or prevent incessant local war making and raiding by the rulers of these people, on trading and economic grounds, which had defeated previous imperial rulers down the millennia is not admitted.

But the British did leave behind large organised armies to the new states in the sub continent who despite recurring conflicts have kept some of control over it. These days, however, the more determined elements among the diverse peoples have other places to go to if they wish to carry on fighting.

But alas, in Britain, there are no Bindon Blood's to be found.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Beating The Retreat

Another difficult week, why is everything so complicated?  The way that time evaporates when you first address what may have been once a simple thing is alarming, especially when time is something to be treasured. It all seems to be a developing shambles.

The Greeks had a myth for it with Sisyphus (Wikipedia) which seems to be what the future looks like for them. It means to have an endless uphill struggle with no respite.

What is not recognised because the idea is so unpopular is that having gone uphill for so long the West is heading downhill with gathering pace. The Retreat From Abundance is under way compounded by the increasing gap between those that have and those that have not.

The question is what kind of retreat will it be? Is it a retreat to The Lines Of Torres Vedras? Is it a Retreat From Mons? Or is it a Retreat From Moscow. In 1812 Napoleon. an early Euro federalist, marched his French Army of half a million men against Russia, quite why I have never really understood.

The French often relied for supplies of food and forage etc. by living off the land they occupied. This may have seemed economic but unluckily left large numbers of angry locals behind them. The Russians gave ground and then more ground and even left Moscow to the French.

The consequence was that when winter came the French were not prepared and a scorched earth policy had left them badly short of supplies. The Army that had invaded Russia was reduced to a few straggling thousands barely alive.

The Retreat From Mons was another matter in August and September 1914. After encountering the full weight of a well equipped and larger German Army the British and French had to retreat to a more tenable defensive position and hope to hold the line and prevent either the loss of Paris or a breakthrough in the north.

It was touch and go and for the troops on the ground a desperate business compounded by all the difficulties of communication and decision. “The biggest shambles since Mons” was a common way of describing foul ups and unholy messes for a long time. But the British and French just about held on and managed to stop the German advance.

Much less known these days is the 1810 retreat to the Lines Of Torres Vedras in Portugal. Wellington, having won at Talavera realised that he did not have enough troops or support to hold the French and retreated to prepared positions to sit out the winter, regroup and build up strength and supplies.

The French were left in territory to which a scorched earth policy had been applied and needing for forage widely across country to stay alive again running into trouble with the local population.

When Wellington moved out, his command of ground and ability to out march the French and critically the supply chain he created meant he could reclaim the Peninsula from the French.

So which are we in for in the coming year or two?

Friday, 17 August 2018

A Run For Your Money

Tonight, Friday, it is said that the main prize in the Euromillions lottery will amount to over £89 million pounds.

For personal reasons known only to the credit check companies, the county courts, sundry bailiffs and persons seeking me at previous addresses, I could do with a slice of the action.

So I will pledge my new trainers as security for a modest loan from a payday loan company that advertises on the net. The cash from this will be used to justify another, rather larger loan from a high street bank.

Then I shall create a new financial instrument called Trainer Bonds and launch these around the financial networks. By dint of high leverage and rapid deployment of monies plus setting up a chain of companies in offshore locations funelling funds through other centres the sums available will become very large.

So large that I will be able to outsource the calculations I need to one of the world's major computer facilities. This will enable me to be able to buy one ticket of every possible number in the Euromillions draw. This means I win. However, there appear to be one or two slight problems.

One is that the interest and charges on all the financial transactions and loans will exceed the prize money by a great deal. The other is that the capital debt cannot be repaid in any way.  In short, Trainer Bonds will have become a “toxic” part of the world’s financial system.

All is not lost, because having put the world in peril of systemic financial collapse causing the end of civilisation as we know it, but more important causing inconvenience and embarrassment to all the world’s elites, I will need bailing out.

The Fed, the Bank Of England, the EU, the Eurozone, the IMF and the rest will have to come up with a package to sort it all out. With any luck they will have to allow me to keep the prize money in order to prevent any further activity on my part.

Then I will be able to afford the new pair of trainers I need, but was unable to get because I maxed out my credit card.

Pure fantasy, of course, nothing like this could happen in real life.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Counting Down And Up

As the year 2018 begins to wind its way to its weary end, will we, won't we have a General Election, or perhaps the return of Corporal Punishment and the rest, there are predictions to be made for next year, 2019 and the doom mongers are winding up the clock.

David Olosuga in The Guardian has run a think piece to warn us of what is to come if history repeats itself or rather belches up more bad news in the shape of disturbances, revolts and trouble for us all as the strains and differences among us become more violent. He turns to the years 1819 and 1919.

He cites the Massacre of Peterloo in 1819 when the working classes went to a meeting at St. Peters' Fields by Manchester on a holiday to hear speeches by reformers wanting them to have the franchise and major political reforms.

The local magistrates holed up in an inn took fright after having a few jars and decided to send in the militia to move them on. The militia, being amateur weekend soldiers and more to the point were of the local ruling class made a mess of it. How much the regular cavalry were involved is a question for debate.

There were deaths and it made the media of its day and again arguably finally set in motion the movement to the great reforms of later decades. My initial thinking on this arose from seeing the film "Fame Is The Spur" of the late 1940's based on the Howard Spring book which took the side of the reformers.

This was in the belief that should any of my lot have been there being but humble, well not quite, workers they would have been among the mass of the people. Sadly, research has come up with one certain person present. It seems that mine was one of the officers of the Militia with a brother-in-law who was with James Skinner at the founding of the regiment Skinners' Horse in India with Arthur Wellesley, later Tory Duke of Wellington.

Which brings me to 1919 and what happened in Liverpool and Glasgow, Royal Naval ships were sent to the former and tanks to the latter as major demonstrations erupted in both cities as the after effects of World War 1 hit their economies. What is interesting about the Liverpool one is that one of the Kings Liverpool Regiment Pals Battalions had been sent to Murmansk and Archangel in support of the White Russians in the aftermath of the revolution of 1917.

It does not take much imagination to think how this went down in Liverpool a City that had given so much to King and Country only for the government to renege on its release promises to troops to assist the Tsar. It delivered a popular cause in the hands of communists and hard left interests.

But there was more to it than that. WW1 and the submarine war had meant that most of the old steamships of 1914 had gone and had been replaced by much bigger, faster merchant ships with modern engines etc. That meant the volume of imports needed a lot fewer ships and in design etc. needed far fewer dock workers to deal with them. Also, many of the old docks were too small for them so they went elsewhere and to add to the pressures fewer and modern shipbuilding yards.

What will be the issues of 2019 that will have their riots etc., where will they be and what will be the consequences? The past tells us that the actual causes may well not be predictable. We might assume in the UK that it will be London, but looking around that could be badly wrong. As for results, who knows?

McDonnell of Liverpool for Prime Minister?

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Naming Of Names

The pictures are of two brothers. The Rev. Gerald Wellesley and Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley. If Gerald Valerian Wellesley had gone into the Army and his brother Arthur had gone into the Church, what might have been the futures of India and Britain?

In previous centuries families had come and gone with the wars, conflicts and ups and downs of life. The landed classes were adept at removing each other. This made way for those who became rich, merchants and such, who bought into land.

If they then picked the right sides in politics, had enough heirs and made enough marriages to the daughters of families of high rank they could rise into the highest levels.

The marriage agreements might entail the lower order family taking the name of a higher order female. So the Colley family became at first Wesley and then amended to Wellesley.

Why has no TV company run a series about these Wellesley brothers and their sister? They were a remarkable group. Gerald was born 7 December, 1770 and died 24 October 1848.

He was the son of Garret Colley Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington and Anne Wesley, Countess of Mornington and was husband to Emily Maude Cadogan.

His brothers and sister were:

Richard Colley Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley of Norragh.
William Wellesley - Pole, 3rd Earl of Mornington.
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.
Henry Wellesley, 1st Baron Cowley.
Lady Anne Smith.

Were Gerald's sermons about hellfire and brimstone? As delivered by Arthur?

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Double Trouble

The delightful pictures above are two stalwarts of our politics who have both done time as Foreign Secretary among other things.

The first as many will know is Boris Johnson of the present. The second is George Brown of the mid 20th Century in the time of Harold Wilson of the Labour Party.

To explain all this would take a lot of words. But is it possible that Boris of the now is the Conservative equivalent of George of Labour of the past?

Looking at the pictures and their dates could they be related?

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Present Is The Past

Another from the archive, 20 November 2009, a little amended to bring it up to date. It is how the EU has come resemble Europe when under the rule of the Habsburg dynasty. Some things do not change much. Quote:

Well, after all that, we are now agreed that basically, taking everything into consideration, and looking at all the options the Habsburgs were right. It is now admitted by our leaders in Europe, not all of them elected, that after about six hundred years, all those wars of ideologies, wealth and empire seeking, dynastic disputes, and sundry fighting between other groups with particular agendas were a waste of time, men and money.

If only those misguided people our forebears trusted with power in the past had just let the Habsburgs, their Emperors, Princes, Dukes and the rest get on with running the show, religion, trade, and everything we could all have lived happily ever after.

Perhaps Jean Claude Juncker and Theresa May do not much resemble King Philip II of Spain, and Queen Mary Tudor of England who married at Winchester in July 1554 (above), but they are the best Europe can do for the time being. Tony and Cherie Blair would have been a little too Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile.

I will skip the complicated history of the Habsburgs, it is all there on the web and Wikipedia serves for starters.  Nor do I suggest that the various descendants of Habsburg’s line scattered about the world should be elevated to high positions in Europe.

They seem to be a sociable lot, but their heritage has meant exclusion from politics.  They could almost claim to be an ethnic group who have suffered social and political isolation and apply for the relevant grants from Brussels.

The point is that the Habsburgs, Holy Roman Emperors and all that, not only ruled much of Europe and beyond, but in the parts they did not have direct rule, exercised a profound influence over what went on.  Moreover, many went in for micro management to an astonishing degree, complaining that they were slaves to their peoples.

We can also ignore their foibles and eccentricities, difficulties in personal relationships, and consequences of genetic inbreeding. They are minor compared to those of many of the current European and UK leaders, and as for the UK we can substitute “political” for “genetic”. The effects of that are infinitely more serious and damaging to the business of ruling than the odd twitching of the DNA.

The Europe of the Habsburgs was a sprawling regime with its many parts rarely functioning in connection with the others.  It was a massive tax and wealth gathering entity which spent vast sums on prestige projects, personal palaces, and in enforcing the doctrines of which they and only they determined and defined.

It was multi layered to a bewildering and complicated degree. Most of the time of its functionaries was spend in working out who they were and what they were supposed to be doing.  If they found that out, then someone higher up would confound it, and it will all start again.

Public decrees would be made, laws and regulations issued, but how they came to be or why would be shrouded in deep secrecy, and only the powerful or the proximate would be party to any of it.

This meant that as you went down through the levels of administration, matters became slower and slower, and more uncertain. Nobody quite knew what decisions might be made and when, unless, of course, they paid good money to find out and obtain the right result.

There was a proliferation of senior, high paying, posts to satisfy the many clients of the state, and as many of the highest gathered so many of them to themselves, then there was extensive delegation to much cheaper and junior officials whose only hope of survival was to extract as much income and as quickly as possible.

The Empire had a monopoly of policing and military matters that were closely combined and under the instruction of the doctrinal and legal administrative classes, so that rebellion was prevented, and any reformers or opposition would be classed as rebellion or heresy and dealt with accordingly.

At the highest levels it was necessary to have connections and background that were absolutely correct. Without the sixteen quarterings of the right families you could neither be admitted to nor held worthy of rule.

Then it was ancestral because that was held to the test of rightness or wrongness. Today there are other tests of political correctness that amount to the same thing. They are boxes that contain the right configurations of display, beliefs, and membership.

Nobody really knew where the money went, and accounting was simply an exercise in writing fiction. Who was supposed to getting the money was one thing. Who really benefited was quite another, sometimes completely random in effect, and at others going to people who had abused every office they held.

There were some political jurisdictions which held out against the Habsburg system, but in the 21st Century by the more effective methods of modern communications and means of propaganda they have been suborned and defeated.

For almost a century Europe was freed of the last of the Habsburg heritage. But it has been too difficult to shake them off. They may not be back in person, but their political tradition has triumphed.  Their system is back, bigger and better than ever and we are all now subject.

At least we will not have dynastic or other wars. Well, not for a year or two.