Sunday 29 April 2018

Putting Marx In His Place

In the next few days and after there is going to be a lot said about the two hundred year anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx in Trier in The Rhineland, then under Prussian rule, but various before with the coming and going of princes and armies over the centuries. It has an ancient cathedral with some prize relics of the saints.

We too have our prize relics of the nearer past, one of which is John Prescott, not long ago Deputy of the Labour Party, called Two Jags because of his personal support for the motor industry who gave much delight to us all via the cartoonists and comedians.

Seeing this picture of him, and seeing one of Karl Marx makes me wonder, who is who, I do not recall John having much hair and whiskers but you never know. John and his ilk are now men of the past in the Labour Party and with their going we are now back to Marx with chips as the Lefties have grabbed power.

There is a great deal of academic literature on the subject of Marx and the intellectual influences bearing on his work. He calls himself a professor and author and was one of those who could just write and write and keep going long after the reader had begun to flag. It is not easy nor was it meant to be. He was trying to explain what he thought the world was and how it worked.

Which raises the question of who did he talk to in the ordinary course of his life? Not the eminent writers or academics of his time but the other forgotten people. The ones he saw, met and was with on a day to day basis and could not avoid. In short the neighbours, who were they? What were they? What may we read between the lines of all that print he turned out?

This blog has already dealt with Morgan Kavanagh and the time Marx was in Dean Street, Soho to suggest that ancient myth and language may have been involved. There were other possible influences there at the time. I refer, of course, to the long standing Huguenot community and their Protestant and commercial interests.

In 1861 he had moved house, as people did then, at least it is unlikely he would be faced with a sign saying "No Prussians". The Germans were seen as our cousins and friends. Quite unlike the French. He has a Maclachlan, an auctioneer, was today's "Private Eye" cartoonist one of these? Did Marx ever return from a book sale with a set of complete works of the great sermon writers, wondering how that had happened?

Then there is Bailey, a sculptor, who did not do one of Marx, probably because he would never see the money for it. And there was Langer, the builder. "Got a roof leak squire? I know just the man, mind you it will cost a few bob". Between these men he would have experienced capitalism red in tooth and claw.

By 1871 Marx had moved up market a degree to the other side of Regent's Park. He is in the first house on the street and next to a John Ford, a "Fancy Worker". There is a Clinton, a Clerk in the War Office, a Batchelour, a retired Treasury Clerk and a Preece in the high tech of the time Telegraph Service, distinctly all of the petty bourgeoisie.

Then in 1881, on the same street, there are the immediate neighbours. On one side Edwin Willis, of the leading organ builders. They had a branch in Liverpool which Edwin took care of at a time when the different faiths were trying to out build each other.

If our present Liverpool Lefties want to get close to Marx, one of their local Parish Churches may well have a Willis organ for them to sing along to. The London Lefties have a rich choice of churches but The Royal Albert Hall with its Willis organ for The Last Night Of The Proms might be worth a visit.

On the other side of the Marx house is Henry Goddard and his wife, Kate. He is a doorman at the House of Lords at a time when many of them thought that the House of Commons was no longer reliable and the Lords should reassert their authority. Previously he was a senior messenger in a City Bank, who put the capital into capitalism.

Before that Goddard had served in the Army between 1844 and 1863 and discharged as a Sergeant on a Chelsea Out Pension and he had been in Bengal with the Royal Artillery. Which means he was there when it went bad in the mid 1850's, Mutiny or Revolt as you prefer and witnessed the end of the East India Company.

Did Marx ever spend a warm evening or two in a garden with the neighbours chatting about this and that and drawing on their invaluable experience? Who know what could have happened?

When Goddard nipped down to Chelsea now and again to see about his pension he might have encountered Naish Hannay, the Waterloo veteran who was in Bath at the same time as the Austen family as a youngster.

What might have happened if he had put Karl Marx onto reading Jane Austen? 

Thursday 26 April 2018

Putting Up And Taking Down

Another day, another statue, this one the Millicent Fawcett suffragette. Whether these memorials of the past are there to inspire us or to warn us is an interesting question. Ideas and beliefs change down the generations.

Those we thought great at one time are not later. Beware the heroes of war who saved us from Napoleon but believed in things we do not. Perhaps we might have a campaign to have the six wives of King Henry VIII as a group to remind us of what things used to be.

Martin Kettle in the Guardian newspaper of 26 April, today, says there are too many statues and we could do without many of them and certainly stop putting them up. He may be right. There are many town centres where you wonder who and what that person had to do with the town.

The Duke of Wellington has statues in London, never mind a magnificent tomb. The one by Hyde Park Corner is interesting in that there are four soldiers, perhaps one each for Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England, see above.

One I know, of a fusilier of the 23rd Regiment of Foot, is for Wales, the others I do not. Interesting though in that a great grandfather of the singer Kathleen Ferrier, Daniel Murray, was in the 23rd at Waterloo. But he was Scots Irish from Co. Down. Kathleen was the ultimate Lancashire lass of her time.

Statues are becoming common, if that is the right word, at football stadia to baffle the fans of the future and provide a target for visiting supporters to go in for a bit of publicity seeking vandalism.

But moving on from the post of a couple of days ago calling for compensation for conscripts to the British Army perhaps the ordinary squaddie deserves one.

A man who as well as training, fighting and doing parade ground stuff spent a large chunk of his not so spare time peeling potatoes. That is a tribute to all the spud bashers as we were known.

Quite where the best place for it to be is a puzzle. One might be the Embankment in London near the Savoy Hotel where some of the War Office bosses spent much the war. I would prefer Waterloo Bridge which so many crossed on their way abroad in the 40's.

The picture above which might provide a model is dated 3rd September 1944 and in northern France where the British troops were advancing against a determined enemy.

The logo on the arm is a Jerboa, a Desert Rat, and tells us that these men were in the 7th Armoured Division, which went from El Alamein to Berlin via Italy and Normandy.

That fact that I wore the same logo a few years later is purely a coincidence.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Naming Of Names

Naming of names, how about Karl Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Joseph Jeremy?

My Nose Hurts

My nose hurts. As for many others it has been a bad few days.

This is one story that tells the tale. 

This is one way to look at it, only the Wizard may be of less use than a cold shower.

The government should do something about it.

On the other hand that might make it worse.

Sunday 22 April 2018

Compensate The Conscripts

The Windrush row is replete with grim ironies. Not least is the passenger ship that gave its name to the whole business, the Empire Windrush, was built in Hamburg named "Monte Rosa" and served the German navy during World War Two.

The UK took it as reparations and needed extra troopships in the late 1940's to return troops from abroad and send out different ones to clear up the many messes of Empire, other wars, as well as being ready for a hot war to start during the Cold War.

The years of the "Windrush Generation" which we are told by our modern media was the shock horror of its time coincides with the period of conscription in which millions of British men were required to do their duty by their King/Queen with no questions asked. The labour shortages that resulted meant recruiting migrants.

Some did not return, see the picture above, others were damaged for the rest of their lives. Essentially, the conscripts lost two years of income, job experience, family or other personal life and might experience horrors rather beyond those of migrants from the West Indies inconvenienced by administrative errors.

A key to all the trouble today is the question of the landing cards  thought to be lost or scrapped. High words and allegations have been made. Now, it turns out to the astonishment of all they could be in the National Archives.

As someone who often has a look in these on the web and in the past has searched for a great deal of information there, one can only have a sense of wonder of a civil service that failed to check its own archive before making its blunders, never mind the politicians.

In the period in question the Brit's had to have their documents, birth certificates and marriage, military discharge papers etc. as routine. The Inland Revenue, the banks and other offices would often ask to see them. Some of the Windrush Generation did not have basic documentation as in the colonies among the local populations they might be ignored.

In the UK now if you want to find out what grandad or a relative was actually doing and where during their National Service you may be out of luck. It was the age before computers and such machines. The amount of paperwork handled by the armies of clerks was vast. What happened to it?

When in the Army at my unit I was the Lord High Chief Incinerator. As when mobilised we could only take what we could carry then nothing had to be left behind. As my chief preferred me to be out of the office it fell to me to do the burning. What was in the files or such was of no matter, up in smoke it went.

During my later career, especially local government reorganisation, these skills were regarded as an asset. Shredding took for too much time, just dumping meant needed places to dump it. So we burned all that could be burned keeping only essential minutes and planning permissions, if I felt like it.

So the unlucky ones of the Windrush Generation, particularly those from locations where the registrations of births and marriages was skimpy, if at all there or could be accessed, were the ones where the paperwork was missing. They were but a small minority in a nation of losers.

What this issue does attract attention for is the chance to claim racism and of the British in general. This period was a different world. You disliked anyone who was not the same as you or your family. I recall yes there was racism and prejudice and in many ways, especially if looking for "digs" or a room to rent.

It was common to see "No Blacks" in the windows of rental etc. places. They usually followed the "No Irish". Given World War 2 few had "No Jews" but they did not find that out until they knocked on the door and were told that the room(s) had just been taken.

In London those with strong Geordie, Scots or Liverpool accents could have trouble. In the Army God help a cockney posted to the Durham Light Infantry. That was the way it was. You might suffer from it yourself, but then equally you might make others suffer.

You might be equal in your kind, but your kind was never equal to others. Except, perhaps in the Army when the bullets were flying.

There are not many left of that generation now and fewer by the day. Why not give compensation, if only to assuage the conscience?

Thursday 19 April 2018

A Taxing Question

In another blog a while back the writer accused the HMRC of playing "silly tax games" in its pursuit of raising tax from business corporations in a world with many tax havens inviting them to locate financial operations there.

Below is the comment I made, one in which I had a rare sympathy for the tax man.


In your post you use the phrase "silly tax games", they are neither silly nor games. HMRC has been obliged to adopt a more forward and determined approach in dealing with major corporations, many international, to collect the taxes due.

There is real pressure on HMRC because governments have been increasing spending and taking on more liabilities. But what too many simply do not realise is the extent and rapidity of change in recent years, especially the politicians and also their leading civil servants.

The corporations on the other hand are able to move far more quickly and they can reorganise and put in place the teams of very able people on substantial earnings that will do the job on systems that are newer and better than those of HMRC.

The accidents of history have created a network of "independent" jurisdictions that are a flexible and ready to enable the movement of money, ownerships, titles to property and the rest to the advantage of these corporations. This is about wealth, who owns and runs it, power, politics and control.

When the corporations own so much and fund the politics, our Prime Minister when at her breakfast table confers with her husband financier, then the servants of the public, such as the HMRC are at another disadvantage.

For the rest of us, we have the problem of what sort of economy are we going to have to provide our needs when this collapses.


Now thrive the armourers.

Tuesday 17 April 2018

Rooms To Unlet

Down the decades, indeed centuries, the word "Landlord" has always been one that produces an adverse reaction. There are many uses of land with many wanting to use it and so those who are the legal owners become landlords. In the 18th Century I suspect my tenant farmers could have been at odds with the gentry class.

Rather later, I recall my parents, who liked to welcome and enjoy the company of friends and neighbours, did not like it when the landlord called, especially when he persisted shouting "I know you are there" while we hid in the attic. As a student, I needed landlords, but many of them made it clear that they did not need me.

There was a time when a high proportion of the population rented, none of that lets make everyone a property owner business then. So the politics of the period meant a party that would "control" rents or promised only to allow "fair" rents etc. meant all the parties bidding for the mass votes of those for whom renting was the only way to have living space.

Having lurched about the property markets to promote mass ownership and that becoming rapidly unstuck and having consigned a good many to what is effectively debt slavery we are back to the business of renting being necessary for many. Bash the landlords is back on the agenda.

This is now complicated by the fact that in the longer past the tension was between Brit's of various kinds. In the 21st Century we have many and various sections with their distinctive ways and means inherited from the places of their origins. One feature is that migrants with money often chose property, those without money, especially refugees, then become almost a servile class.

This means that while landlords are heading back to the top of the bash the rich lists the politics means that potentially there are massive subsidies needed as welfare or other benefits for the rapidly increasing numbers who need and are beholden to the landowners and renters.

None of our parties has any sensible or rational answers to any of this all variously claiming to be promoting property building, helping business, guaranteeing welfare and keeping a lid on rents at the same time when this is clearly impossible.

In the meantime those at the wrong end of are queuing to buy lottery tickets in the faint hope of buying their way out.

Saturday 14 April 2018

Partant Pour La Syrie

Here we go again.

This French anthem says it all in under three minutes.

After over two centuries you think we might learn.

But we do not.

Whatever happened to Napoleon?

Friday 13 April 2018

Dams And Rivers

There is a fuss about the fiftieth anniversary of a speech given in the West Midlands by the Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, in April of 1968.

In this period many speeches were given by a horde of politicians but he made this one with TV cameras present and not only was it recorded but saved. He warns of the risks of uncontrolled migration in florid terms.

It did not go down well in Westminster and other parts of London or the media. But in Wolverhampton when he turned up in the Director's box at the football ground, the fans on the South Bank gave him a cheer.

Powell was a highly qualified academic, the Classics, a Professor at 25, who had strayed into the upper reaches of the Tory Party, partly by force of intellect but more perhaps due to his ability to get the punters going and bring in the votes. He had a remarkable military career during World War II.

For ordinary people who puzzled over which bunch of grasping charlatans to vote for in this period of the 1960's he was different, a one off as we say today. His classical background had taught him how and where to put the boot in. See Shakespeare's "Coriolanus", show me your wounds.

This did not make him any better, or for that matter, worse. In a time when we were struggling to maintain a new peoples welfare state on the basis of a collapsing industrial structure there were many questions and few sensible answers.

There are things in history which we forget. Enoch Powell had a problem with being taken seriously and may explain his need to take the high ground and play the heavy man. It was the name Enoch.

For the key voting generation at the time there would have been vivid memories of the famous comedy act of earlier years, "We Three In Happidrome, Ramsbottom, Enoch and Me (Lovejoy)" see Youtube. Enoch was the daft one always getting it wrong and a hopeless case.

It explains why that first name dropped off the lists of first names chosen for new males born to proud parents. But poor Enoch Powell was stuck with it.

He really did have a problem of being taken seriously notably with his ideas about the USA being our enemy. So he laid it on like a trowel, as the saying goes.

Try this choice example at two minutes if you want a Labour parallel of sorts, but you may not last.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Paying For Crime

It is being said that the rise in crime, especially those of violence is entirely due to the reductions in numbers of police officers in the various constabularies. 'Ello, 'ello, 'ello, what's all this then? Come along to the station with me and explain.

May I confess that I have missed the boat there. Not realising that there may have been a reduction in the number of squealing police cars belting up the road to the motorway or if not then that is at the expense of feet on the ground in the streets.

The trouble is that here the scope for robbing and attacking shopkeepers is much reduced because so many of them have closed. One would have to go to centres which therefore attracts all those with inclinations to crime. Add to that they will go for the shops which do more business in cash that most.

Another issue is that of the gangs, who they are and where they came from. This is nothing new, it can be seen down the centuries. The famed London Mob of the 18th Century was largely made up of contingents of gangs who at times appeared as one.

With the age of film and TV one of the staples of production have been crime films in which often gangs have been at the centre. Al Capone eat your heart out, or somebody else's. The effect of these has been to glorify this activity to an extent with its appeal to rebellious youth as well as men on the make.

Again down the ages a feature of the composition of gangs has been rival groups of young men. Those who promote migration in principle often do not look at the facts of the figures. A good many migrants, past and present, have a high proportion of young men looking for work and money, and some money without the tiresome work.

Where one culture does not have freedoms of certain kinds, for example the women folk and another does, given the natural propensities of young males with the fare in their pocket, then off they go to places where they hope or think their wildest dreams will be fulfilled. In the 19th Century there were things you could do in Manchester or Manhattan that you could not do in County Mayo.

In the 21st Century, times and peoples have moved on so in our urban areas in the UK the young men are from different places but nowadays we are supposed to welcome all according to the new norms of political correctness. The trouble is that those at the wrong end of it want to know where the police are and what are they for?

In the last few days the failed robbery and the death of the thief at the hands of a very elderly man have produced some interesting questions. Mine is that there were two people being robbed and why have we forgotten the lady. She was also elderly and very frail and obviously her life at serious risk.

So the man is arrested for coming to the defence of his wife and doing unto a robber what the robber was doing to her and him? It is likely he was not charged because I could not have imagined any jury finding him guilty.

But what if we were in a legal system where the judge was bound by the rules that the government had laid down? I wonder if we are not far away from a system where in a similar situation the elderly lady was put to death and her husband also and their estate handed over to the family of the robber?

Saturday 7 April 2018

Your Descent Is My Ancestry

Back to facts, theories and opinions again. Today, Saturday 7th, the Mail featured a story about how learned scholars had discovered that Her Majesty our Queen has among her ancestors The Prophet Muhammad who died in 632 CE. The Mail claims that it is news.

It is not, this one is something I came across decades ago in a journal specialising in genealogy and pops up every now and again since. The original article had a number of ifs and buts that the regular readers would have been aware of but suggested there was a degree of probability.

There are two different but related matters here. One is the actual trace from parents via all the successive parents before over many generations to see just who is there. Life is full of surprises and many of them are not wanted. The other is demographic statistics, about which I want to keep it very short and simple.

In the parentage the theory is that what is in the records is accurate. But if any other suggestions are true then they may not be the facts. For example, was Queen Victoria the child of The Duke of Kent, or was it one of the footmen? Only DNA can tell and it is possible we will never have that.

The same applies to a number of other monarchs etc. down the ages. I have opinions about Caroline of Brunswick, for example. And many historians have suggested big ifs and buts from a number of parents of the past. Who knows and does it actually matter much?

With the Germanic kings, princes and other elites that we have especially among our Royal's they had extensive connections to the East, especially the Kingdom of Kiev. In turn these go back to strong links with the Byzantines of Constantinople who in turn transacted with Islam in war, business and women.

So a few hundred years of these connections with the rulers of parts of Islam, some of whom were descended either from the Prophet or any relations meant that descent from the Prophet and family could and did happen in the East of Europe and thence to the West.

Which brings us to the stat's. Theoretically, by the 1300's CE the number of child bearing females in the population is less than the total female ancestry of anyone in the UK and Ireland. In short there have to be others and in many cases a lot of them. Add to that the extensive North Sea and Baltic trading of the past etc. and this means that we are not Poles apart.

By the time of Prophet the potential figures are then very big. When this coincides with the growing numbers of his descendants and of his family, there you go. There are now a lot of them about one way or another, possibly most of us, perhaps almost all.

So much for the news, now back to the football, are you related to Albert Stubbins?

Friday 6 April 2018

Sweet And Sour

In the UK media there are many sources who make you wonder whether they fail to understand the planet they are on and literally seem to be in a world entirely of their own. One such source is The Guardian, aka Grauniad because of its many errors of the past.

There was a time before finance and emotion took it over when it was The Manchester Guardian and a useful counter balance to the stuff that came out of the old Fleet Street. Then it was taken over and moved south to London.

The lengths of idiocy it will go to be seen to be on the side of individuality and personal preferences are extraordinary at times but today, 6 May 2018 they have almost literally taken the biscuit and a very sugary one at that.

Ella Risbridger in the Opinion section has a piece "Hospitals Are Bleak Enough Already. Banning Sugary Drinks Is Just Cruel". Yes, they are bleak because they have to be clean, very clean and with only the necessary kit to fulfil their critical tasks.

The same applies to the food and other intakes patients need to sustain them for the time they are there. Haute cuisine it isn't, basic nutritious and calculated to serve the particular needs of a patient it has to be and that is difficult enough.

Two major departments to be found in hospitals are oncology and gastro-intestinal, that is the inner bits dealing with input and outputs of the body. But the body is a whole. What goes in can get all over because of the blood stream etc. and the way the internal chemistry works.

There is the medication required for the person and other chemicals needed related to the function of the hospital. In recent decades these have been transformed following research and the discovery of new chemicals and combinations. They have to be carefully balanced in any treatments.

If Ella or any of the sub-editors could have spent ten minutes on the web they would have been able to see the chemical composition of many of the "sugary drinks". These too are now are the products of the synthetic chemicals industry that are very different from the original products of the past.

They are to do with taste and flavours, colour, impact and often designed to be addictive. A large dose of caffeine can be found along with other substances. Moreover, give the price competition and costs of sale, supply, manufacture etc. the contents have to be cheap. So it is a case of consumer beware.

People are different. Some can manage to drink a good deal of this stuff without much evident effect other than the caffeine hit etc. Others do not and again it can hit the brain as well as the system. One way to be affected is to be in a hospital with all of its chemistry.

Another is to be on strong medication following treatment whose function is adversely affected by such drinks with the risk of permanent damage in the case of either an overload of one or another or reactions from one or other of the many chemicals being put into the body.

But for Ella and The Guardian all this is as of nothing.

Thursday 5 April 2018

Singing For Suppers

Yesterday Liverpool played Manchester City in a Euro semi-final match. It was quite like old times. Their fans attacked the City bus, there was sundry fighting and during the game The Kop was bellowing out it's chants and songs, notably "You'll Never Walk Alone" from a musical of long ago.

A couple of days ago we put up the musical "Carousel" on our TV for a bout of nostalgia and a change from sport. It is dated from 1945 stage in New York, stage in London in 1950 and the film 1956. There have been recent revivals. It is Grade A sentimental but with a lot of songs. See Wikipedia for the complicated tale.

So, slumped in my chair, when did the Liverpool fans take up this song and why? It became an exercise in facts, opinion and theories. Liverpool had won the League in 1947, were relegated to the Second Division in 1954 and after eight years of near misses for promotion regained the First Division in 1962, won it in 1964 and then won the FA Cup for the first time in 1965.

It appeared therefore that those years of the 50's were a bad time, followed by the good times. Ergo Cogito Sum the Kop took the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" up during the dark days of the 50's becoming an anthem in the 60's.

The football facts were facts, the theory was based on facts and it was my opinion because I was in the Kop a handful of times in the 40's and 50's and was of the opinion that it had been sung then.

Then I look at the net and Wikipedia that fount of learning. This they say was not the case. A Liverpool pop group, Gerry And The Pacemakers, released a version in 1963 that hit the top of the charts and the fans on The Kop were encouraged to sing it to beef up the media coverage of games.

But indeed I might well have heard it sung. When football matches were played on Saturdays at 3.00 p.m. many of the fans had refreshed themselves in public houses to withstand the rigours of the terraces. They were singing all sorts of things and rival groups (gangs?) had differing favourites, anything for a punch up.

The TV people, however, preferred to keep it simple and to show what appeared to be a communal jolly and stadia by then had better and louder sound systems. The old rivalries born out of religion or politics were not for Match of the Day.

So the chosen one for Anfield was the song from Carousel. The different voices of any fans trying to sing something else were drowned out, it was either to sing the song of choice or shut up.

Harold Wilson, the Labour Leader and later Prime Minister was all in favour of this state rationalised improvement. Some of the fans were his constituents. Visualise it if you can, a leading politician apparently singing for his supper in the Director's Box.

How very different from the ways in which we conduct our politics these days and discussion about matters of history and the rest.

Tuesday 3 April 2018

Where There's A Will

The Labour Party is promising £10,000 smackers to people at age 25 as an Inheritance Fund to set them up to meet the expenses of adult life.

This could mean 15,000 bottles of Carlsberg Export at a nearby supermarket.

The 25th birthday parties to come will surely live in the memory.

Perhaps these occasions could be called Jeremy Days because they will truly be out of their minds.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Monday 2 April 2018

Little Bang

Is it a case of Monday morning blues or can there be another reason? 

According to The Mail our universe has begun the slide into a vast field of negative energy, so in the future end of story.

It will take a little time, so continue to be worried about the state of your debits and credits.