Wednesday, 5 March 2014

All The Days Of The Kerry Dances

Was it the imagination or did John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, cross himself before a a bank of flowers for the dead a couple of times, only for the BBC News to cut out that bit for later screenings?  This was the Roman Cross. 

Recalling old Soviet propaganda films about the Middle Ages memory says that a point was made in them about the baddies, The Christian Teutonic Knights being blessed with that one as opposed to the different Orthodox Cross of the Russians, the good guys.  Old prejudices die hard. 

In the late 14th Century going off to the Lithuanian Crusades was the summer break for some of the Western equestrian classes.  They would join the Teutonic Knights to go East for God, or at least their version of The Word.  Bolingbroke, later King Henry IV of England and Wales was one.  He was joined by his sidekick, a Yorkshire lad named Sir Robert Waterton who held lands in mid Yorkshire.

These lands are now represented at the highest levels by the elite of the non-equestrian class namely Ed Balls, who did so much to cause the recent Great Crash and Yvette Cooper his Lady who crusades for her version of Human Rights that has so encouraged the compensation culture wrecking much of the economy in its own way.

With impeccable timing the Metropolitan Opera in New York had scheduled in the last few days its new production of the Alexander Borodin masterpiece "Prince Igor" which was relayed live by BBC Radio 3 and the Irish RTE Lyric FM on Saturday and may turn up on Sky Arts. 

This splendid, colourful and very tuneful piece of historical tosh is all about the conflicts of a thousand years ago involving the Russians, based on Moscow and their neighbours and invaders of the lands to the South, the Polovstians of that time.

You will all have heard some of the tunes.  The piece has been quarried by very many song writers and composers of the last few decades.  They have not only made the Hit Parade in the past, almost a whole musical "Kismet" made use of them.  They still crop up in the occasional advertisements.

The historical background is complex.  Wikipedia has entries on Prince Igor the opera, Polovstian Dances, and Polovstians; the listing has an article under the historically more correct Cumans.  This Wikipedia on the Cumans is long, densely worded and very complicated, even if you know the geography and some of the history.

What has happened in that region since the end of the 14th up to the 19th Century is no less complicated and it really hasn't become much easier in the 20th Century and into the 21st.  It is a region that is the crossroads of continents where tribes and peoples have come and gone, fought and lost, lived and scattered. 

As one commentator put it, if Moscow does not control the region it is just another nation, if it does then it is an Empire.  This is the region where our representatives, elected and unelected are galloping around peddling their late 19th and early 20th Century notions and prejudices of what is right and what is not.

All they will come down to is some strange version of tribal dances which may entertain and divert us but do have little to do with the brutal realities of power.  John Kerry is about to find this out.

If the world is about to go through another age of great change with the reshaping of nations and peoples then many other aspects of life, government, rules, laws and religions, either with or without gods, are going to be radically different.

Would you really have put the equivalent of a medieval monk in charge of a large Empire in the 20th Century?  Think of the disasters that this might have caused the world.  But wait,

Wasn't Stalin once destined for the monastery?

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