Thursday 31 May 2018

Out Of Sight Out Of Mind

Poor old Nelly, that is Admiral Lord Nelson, 1758-1805, stuck up there on his plinth in Trafalgar Square since the 1840's to keep the pigeons busy; once a hero but is now forgotten and unloved. His statue went up then because after many financial busts and plagues and being kicked out of Afghanistan, we needed a hero.

In the 21st Century his personal opinions on slavery, in line with many of the upper classes at the time are now a cause for expelling him and dumping the statue in The Thames.

The ultimate irony is that had the French and Spanish won the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar and defeated the British, then it is probable that Britain could not have abolished the slave trade in 1808 and then abolished slavery in the West Indian colonies in 1833.

The loss of the fleet to enforce this would mean losing those colonies to other slave owning states. So Nelson in effect opened the way for the anti-slavery movement to succeed. But he was only obeying orders despite his personal interests and connections.

Another grim irony is that during the Battle a good many of the brave men in the sails and on the guns were press ganged, that is simply taken from their homes put on a ship and told to obey or be flogged or hanged.

The cotton or wool in their uniforms would have come from mills in the North of England notorious for their foul conditions, in effect forced contract or debt labour and almost slave labour for children.

There were the unlucky ones passed or sold on from the workhouses and Parish relief officials, oddly enough often run by the mill owners. The energy and basics came from coal mines and other industries in which labour conditions were the same or worse.

Agriculture was the major economic activity. so many labourers were taken for both the navy and the army, there would have been some soldiers on the ships. Some were taken for local militias and then moved on to a regular regiment or in effect sold by their local landowner to the recruiting officers, notably in Ireland and Scotland. If the lord, laird or squire told you to join, you joined.

It took the rest of the 19th Century and well into the 20th Century before the ordinary people of Atlantic Isles gained the franchise and shook off the degrees of servility and forced labour that were a risk to all those thrown out of work, sick or old. If you were an orphaned five year old and told to muck out stables to earn your food then you shovelled for your life.

The trouble with statues of people rather than gods or animals is the people have their ups and downs, likes and dislikes and personal opinions on various matters. Churchill is decried because of his belief in Eugenics, with many of his time.

A leader in this field was Carr-Saunders then Director of the LSE. So when you throw Nelson and Churchill off Westminster Bridge just pop along The Strand and burn down the London School of Economics, despite its changed views on this and many other subjects.

I once believed that if the world learned to play football and took a common interest it could help world peace, OK I was young at the time. And I changed my mind after an afternoon in the old Shed at the West Bromwich Albion ground when they were playing against Aston Villa.

The answer to the statue problem is not to put them up in the first place. There have been peoples and societies in the past which do not like images or statues of people. We have one where they are present every minute of the day.

Nelson was a Norfolk lad with extensive connections on his mother's side. Another Norfolk person with a statue is Edith Cavell who as a nurse was executed in World War 1 by the Germans for helping prisoners escape. Might they have been related, both being the children of clergymen?

Should Edith's statue be dumped as well for her Anglican beliefs and reservations about German foreign policy and Europe?

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Scotland The Bountiful

It looks as though unspoken desires of the Scots have come out from under the kilt. Not all that long ago Scots seemed to want to keep Scotland to themselves and stay away the rest, whether or not they were of Scots origin.

Now they are clamouring for more migrants. It is said that this might be something to do with the age balance, too many old, not enough young. A reason for this is all those young Scots who hoofed off to civilised places with reliable incomes and are unlikely to come back.

The new peoples will bring skills, investment (really?),and different ideas about community. How this is to be achieved is a good question, but probably the Scots will do what they have always done; make it up as they go along and if a debit arises blame the English and demand money.

I have a plan, you only need a few shots of Islay to appreciate it. Scotland has a lot of rural land a great deal of it little used for various reasons, not least rain, frost and fog. Your create sectors of this land under the authority of persons who are termed Land Agent Immigrant Rural Developers or LAIRD for short.

Each sector will be divided up into small holdings of a few acres with a simple living space which has basic facilities. There are a lot of streams and bogs to take up the waste. They are termed Community Rural Organised Free Titles or CROFTS.

Because migrants often arrive as families or groupings of an extended family they will be defined as Community Land Acquisition Norms or CLANS.

This process will not be easy and there will be conflicts of interests, title and religion which will have to be policed, possibly by levies from the towns or England.

It could work, if the Scots wanted it to. Why has nobody thought of this before?

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Dan Dan Sanitary Man

Dan Snow, a BBC presenter who does the odd turn in imaginative history to tell the story the company way is involved in a row about fighter pilots in World War 2 and saying that women flew Spitfires in action against the Hun as members of fighter squadrons when they did not. Women did fly planes but in transport from one place to another.

One can only gasp at the possibility of, say, a "1917 Squadron" led by Bessie Braddock taking on the massed Luftwaffe bombers over Bootle. As ever the BBC misses the point and fails to make a real case. That is what the women did do during the War that in that period had been regarded as men only jobs.

Because Bessie was an ambulance driver and a brave one at that. The casualty rate for fighter pilots was high and although not the equal those for the ambulance drivers in Liverpool and Bootle In a time of dimmed headlights and no street lighting this was high and especially during the air raids.

Ah, an academic historian might say we should rely on the sources. One such is the 1939 Register compiled at the beginning of the war. At 25 Freehold Street we have Hugh Bamber a retired book binder, John Braddock, an insurance agent and his wife Elizabeth M. an unpaid domestic, who we know to be Hugh's daughter. It is not far away from the McDonnell family of our present Labour Deputy Leader.

That is our Bessie. She and her husband at the time were both leading figures and very active in the politics of Liverpool as her father had been before her. They were very much of The Left and given the industrial relations problems in Liverpool in the early years of the war you might ask whose side were they on?

The answer was Uncle Joe's the lovable old dictator of the Soviet Union who was leading the world towards an age of workers bliss and from 1939 to 1941 honouring an agreement with Adolf Hitler. The Braddock's and others were putting Communism before country. The 1939 entry is a minor example of their non-cooperation.

But the fighter pilots were up the skies and taking heavy losses. Long ago I knew some as a teenager playing rugby along with men in their late 30's. Our Hon. Sec. was one, a couple more with a handful of other RAF types as well. When after a game the Hon. Sec. clambered off his stool with the third pint, put it on his head and began to stamp his feet the show began.

If the messes in which the surviving pilots in the war drank were anything like this then they were not places for women, of any kind, high or low. The planes themselves needed remarkable strength to fly. More to the point often every man available was needed up there, not grounded by the monthly usual or pregnancy.

Dan Snow and his dad, Peter Snow, are fully paid up members of our present Westminster media elite who tell it the way they want to and for the way they want other people to see it. The past they see is a cash flow for their interests. But not alas ours.

The Hon. Sec. went to a higher place a while ago, beyond the limits of any aircraft past, present or future. We have an old airfield nearby that has shows now and again. Sometimes we see the Spitfires and if really lucky the Hurricane's as well.

Saturday 26 May 2018

Blowing In The Wind

You would think there was enough to worry about in terms of money and monetary systems for the Bank of England to be concerned about weather forecasting.

This is not the case as this article in Bank Underground suggests. Because bad weather might mean insurance claims and very bad mean numbers of very large claims. It concludes:


In summary, we have shown that if the last 30-years frequencies persist, the recent experience of the 2017 hurricane season is probably not an outlier but closer to the norm.

This is an important topic for insurers and others alike, and one where further research is needed to improve our collective understanding of hurricane clustering and its potential impact.

Given these trends, insurers, in particular, need to consider the operational, economic and risk management impact of the assumptions made when modelling hurricanes.


The "frequency" relates to a series of hurricanes in "clusters". One hurricane is bad enough but a run of them across the same wide track in the USA can devastate a whole region.

The Bank is concerned that insurance companies may not cope with the consequences. If they cannot or even fail then the costs fall elsewhere.

As what is very bad for insurance companies is bad for an economy and monetary systems. Serious dangers arise, financially, politically and even internationally.

So this summer keep an eye on the weather reports as well as what may or may not be happening in the markets or even the football.

Friday 25 May 2018

Feeding Time

On 21 May in his blog John Redwood had an item "The Future Of The High Street" which was a ramble round the subject of our changing retail sector. This ultra free market man seems as far as shopping is concerned to want support, assistance and planning for the town shopping centres feeling the pinches.

Tell me the old old story as the song goes. My parents at one time were in the retail trade of the day and were among the losers as the changes after World War One began to force a new kind of shop and shopping. Luckily they moved on to other jobs.

But they still had a hankering for shop work which then might have a status relating to the customers it had and the products it sold. When school leaving age approached they asked local shopkeepers if there might be a place for me. 

There wasn't if only because they were unanimous that running a shop meant keeping your customers and my presence behind the counter would not meet that objective. As for other shop options, by this time in any case the High Streets were in the process of change.

The changed High Streets into the 1960's more or less lasted until into the nineties and now that has experienced rapid changes culminating in the effects on the profitability and viability of many major chains and others. What I know is what I see.

Locally, for us the High Street etc. has become a cluster of knick knack, minor goods and mostly food outlets of many kinds reflecting the radical changes in our eating habits and food sources, notably all the ethnic varieties for our new neighbours.

In the last few days we have welcomed a Fat Guys Burger Bar one of a major international food chain together with another major chain outlet, Krispy Kreme doughnuts by the dozen and with varieties one could only drool about.

Perhaps they should get together. On the other hand if I could buy up all those M&S and other stores on the market I could launch my own Doburger Chain, see picture above.

Given the increasing size of people and especially those of the younger generations it means I could be living off the fat of the land.

But where have all the humbug factories gone?

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Money Makes Money

A programme, "Robbie's War. The Rise And Fall Of A Playboy Billionaire", BBC 2 Monday, now on IPlayer, centred on the battle the financier Robert Tchenquiz and his legal team have had to avoid his home being taken by creditors as part of the fallout from the recent major crash. Robert and his brother Vincent were leading figures in property dealing until 2008.

The legal team are people at the top of their profession and are supported by others.. For that reason coverage of the programme in the media and elsewhere concentrate on the human interest aspects and avoid comment on wider issues. Seeing people emerging from The Supreme Court carrying bulky files is more than enough. I suspect the next issue of "Private Eye" will avoid this one.

Robert is reported to have complained that the BBC did not really present him or his case in the light it should have been in the editing and presentation, and is said to be considering the legal issues. The lawyers on screen are people I would not like to argue with. What does give me a twitch is the home.

Were I to have umpteen millions running into the billion class it is not a home I would choose. Palatial it is, inside, with a classy exterior and being in Knightsbridge top price. But it is next to the Royal Albert Hall, a major entertainment venue. Having been a Prommer at the BBC Proms and there for other things, the people, my dear, the people.

This means it is very close to Kensington Road, one of the busiest in London with buses and coaches galore never mind the black cabs, delivery vehicles etc.; in short air pollution at high levels. While the Hall is at the front and close, at the back the scenery is that of sundry blocks of flats. Expensive flats, perhaps, but still all those other humans.

The programme did not say much about anything else, notably the financial issues of a decade ago. It was said that "the banks" were always willing to back the deals and finding credit then was easy for those in the business. But which banks and more to the point which bankers?

Similarly the company structures at the heart of the enterprises were just pictures of linked names and only names. All it told you that it was an intricate business and we might assume money flows between them in the process of making the deals.

Also, missing, although not lost in real life were the politicians of those days past for whom the money men and deal makers were the modern gods of creation and building a new Britain based on financial services, property values and speculation.

Where are those money men now? Gone to earth, some of them with others to be found occasionally on yachts in the Mediterranean keeping up with all those cheerful Russians who have arrived in recent years.

Sunday 20 May 2018

Clearing The Mind

We are told about the major rise in "dementia" and not simply among the aged, but in younger age groups. Certainly the brain is a crucial, vulnerable and sensitive part of the body. Among other things it needs reliable and "clean" blood flow.

My concern is whether, given the shortage of time, specialists and the rest in the NHS whether the diagnosis of dementia is being made too quickly and easily in many cases. That is apart from actual and known physical injury.

There are a number of brain effects that create "fog". The list below is not in any order of number or seriousness. Also, in many cases there may be more than one interacting factors. Another is whether the effects are temporary or can become permanent.


Candida/Fungal infection

Brain fog from chemical reactions e.g. fragrances

Diet - additives, flavourings, pesticides etc.

Alcohol intake

High sugar and starch intake

Concussion and noise over time

Acoustic effects of loud sound

Physical, blood flow, cell damage/loss/disease, age shrinkage,

Sleep problems (external noise etc.) and overwork




EMS: electro magnetic (field) sensitivity


Thursday 17 May 2018

Ducking The Dukedoms

No sooner had I posted about trains when a peerage matter appeared in the papers. The question is what title Trooper Harry might be given on his marriage. Duke of Sussex might be one, but does his spouse want to be known as The Brighton Belle in the media, back to trains again?

The last Duke of Sussex 1773-1843 lived an interesting and complicated life which may not be a good "fit" with what is needed at present. There were also Earl's of Sussex of whom one was the Arthur son of Queen Victoria (and Albert) whose first title was Duke of Connaught.

This Dukedom is being suggested as another option. A delicate issue is that the old province and Kingdom of Connaught is now part of the Republic of Ireland and they are very sensitive about land. It was issues of land ownership and rentals as well as religion that led to their breakaway from the UK.

For me Connaught means The Devil's Own, The 88th Regiment of Foot, The Connaught Rangers, if only because they were in the Peninsula with Wellington. Their bayonet charge at Bussaco sent the French packing and at Salamanca they broke the French lines.

The picture above is the famed 1878 one from Lady Butler with two recruits in Ireland on their way to the army, the Connaught Rangers, fame, perhaps fortune and if they survived a pension to be enjoyed in London along with a job as watchman.

This couple of minutes reminds us of the formalities, albeit not with the 88th, long gone, sadly.

A minute and a half of this is more my style these days, look for the Jerboa on the arm.

Now it is time for a quick march to a cup of tea.

All Change

You are reminded that this weekend on Sunday the new timetables for many rail companies will be introduced which involve in some cases changed patterns and routing of services as well as the actual times.

As a preliminary the Government has decided that one line, the East Coast; Edinburgh to London now and again, and recently run by Virgin, will change from the nearly nationalised to the fully.

Passengers may find that there are also changes to the stock  available for certain lines, see above.

Last but not least; according to my understanding of the new General Data Protection Regulations, airlines and railways should not be told which passengers have made bookings.

Monday 14 May 2018

Past And Present

It is a convention that the world changes and in all sorts of ways. The media tell us that we are in one such world and give us the impression that it is something new and easy. It is neither and never has been. Change in history might mean change of history.

If you want a real head banger to learn this try the link. It is about the last half of the 19th Century and is a Wikisource from a book about the development of steam propulsion in shipping. Just skip down the page and no questions will be asked.

It may seem arcane but what happened as a result of the changes was that the world shrank rapidly and by a great deal. What was possible  for governments, business and others became the world of the early 20th Century with all its wars, ambitions and upheavals.

Just as technology and science shrank the world and shaped its history so now has the new internet and digital shrank history. The amount of archive material from a wide variety of sources in many countries coupled with indexing and other search provision is now vast and growing almost by the day.

Instead of a few learned and highly trained people who could travel to see and interpret what was held in guarded archives or such now anyone so inclined can have a look. Instead of the costs of travel and weeks or months going through the papers there are now the internet costs, a great deal cheaper and within the ability of many more to pay.

Picking out just one area of interest, the journals and newspapers of a period. I recall what a business it was wading through acres of the stuff in search of something, anything, that would be useful. For the Census Returns it meant London which was needed as well  for the Registrar General's records.

The internet has coincided with the fact that the Census Returns from 1841 to 1911 in England and Wales are there, a huge store of information about the location and structure of society. You can go to any town or village, look around the streets and see what is what. Some of the possible would have been impossible before.

One matter in another part of history is the 17th Century Civil War. the basic story has been with us for a while and most attention is fixed on the major battles that occurred. What we see from the archive and other records is the extent of local actions where in the counties the War became a matter of landowners grabbing land, setting old scores and ruling by the sword for one side or another.

Across the country the War was not just the battles but years of running violence and a nastiness that make our present troubles with gangs look minor and petty in comparison. It was a world where you could not rely on or trust anyone almost anarchy in reality in the name of religion.

It is not surprising that so many fled to the America's. The trouble was that some took their bad habits with them. It wasn't too long before there was another Civil War, that of Independence for the USA, which led inevitably to another of the 1860's.

After two World Wars and a Cold War it could be that we are getting back to the old routines.

Sunday 13 May 2018

Telling An Old Story

I was thinking of commenting on something else when I saw this in Zero Hedge. It is one of those ideas that despite its disadvantages and evident problems may catch on for politicians looking to get the votes in the right segment of the electorate for them.

Paying For Pensions is the subject, an issue common across most of the first world economies, which I think just about includes ours. The idea comes from Chicago, a city which has long had a reputation for imaginative ways of redistributing money and income.

This one has a property tax hitting the owners hard to take money to cover the rising deficits in pensions funding. In the UK with so many property owners either having or looking forward to pensions it could be that there would be a lot of taking with one hand and giving with another.

If that is the case then it is probable that the government would take its cut and a big one. Let us hope John McDonnell doesn't see it or it might become Labour Party Policy between coughs at the next conference.

Friday 11 May 2018

Trump Does The Can Can

As we all know, well some of us, President Trump of the USA is half Scottish. Accordingly, he has acquired among his many interests bits of Scotland amongst his investments. Like many Scots he keeps a close eye on where the money is going.

This shocking story from Zero Hedge says that Trump has ordered that one of the Scots most sacred beliefs, that the fizzy drink Irn Bru can do things that no other drink can do, be ignored and it be taken from the shelves of his hotels etc. and not be supplied.

When spilled it will stain the expensive carpets and cost a lot to clean, if it can be cleaned. Not only does it pack a fizzy punch, once out of the can, it marks its ground with its colour.

Ouch, it is my ancestral Scottish twitch. If it does this to carpets and defeats the cleaning, what happens to the insides of the Scots?

It might explain a lot.


Tuesday 8 May 2018

Fancy A Drink?

As summer has arrived early, just in time to mate with the pollen season, many will be under the climatic cosh.

It is hard to maintain a diet under these circumstances. Also, thirst has to be dealt with and many of the tasty non-alcoholic drinks have artificial sweeteners to cut the calories by cutting the sugar.

All is not as it seems is what Dr. Mercola says in his daily shock horror story to send us all trembling to our kitchens.

There are times when I feel like the ancient mariner, water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.

Sunday 6 May 2018

Art For Arts Sake And Churchill

There is a lot of art out there on TV for those interested and in one form or another. One is the Factum Arte Sky Arts series on "Mystery Of The Lost Paintings" covering eight examples of major works gone but not forgotten.

Applying modern high tech' research and digitisation skills experts attempt to recreate them to as close to the original as possible. It is a long and intricate process which the programme has to simplify down to a few minutes that can be explained to the passing viewer.

The first one seems to be able to do without much of the imagery, noise, aggression and competitive requirements of most of TV these days leaving us to think about the artist, the work, the people involved at the time and what really happened.

The first was a question more people will know about. It was the lost painting by Graham Sutherland of Winston Churchill that was intended to be for the Houses of Parliament to add to the portraits of Prime Ministers of the past. These are images usually of dignity to present them as figures of state and standing.

My conclusion is that the fiasco that resulted can be put down to the Department of Bright Ideas and inevitably a committee was involved and making the decisions. The theory was that the members of the Lords and Commons would stump up a thousand or so smackers to pay for a portrait done by the best to be had.

What added was that Churchill was Prime Minister at the time, his 80th birthday pending on 30 November 1954. His lifestyle not a healthy one and he was trying to fight the Cold War dismantle the Empire and keep the welfare state going while staying Tory to the bone. He was not at his best by then.

Not least was the fact that while the Conservatives had more seats in the Commons, in the 1951 Election Labour actually polled more votes than the Conservatives and their vote increased slightly from the 1950 election. The Conservatives had increased their votes but owed their victory, if anything, to the long overdue reform of the constituency boundaries in the late 1940's, under a Labour Government.

It was a strange political world, made no less strange by the limited media and information available to the general public. The press were mostly governed by the Tory press barons, TV in the limited areas covered had only the BBC on one channel and very little discussion or coverage and the Pathe newsreels have to be seen to be believed, mostly shouting nonsense and propaganda.

The committee soon found that among the artists of the day, there was no great enthusiasm for the job of Churchill portrait. One reason is that their whole standing and reputation would be decided by this one work. Another was that Churchill, an artist himself, might well have his own ideas.

Eventually, it was Graham Sutherland who came forward and they were grateful for it, he was one of the Big Names in art of his day. Moving on from his early highly modern work he was involved in design and notably the newly built Coventry Cathedral replacing the former bombed one.

He had decided to try his hand at portraits and has come up several well received ones of notable personalities, one being the famous Somerset Maugham. They were vivid and interesting takes on people and the function of a portrait. Sutherland was in fashion and the committee was anxious to be there as well.

Yes, it was an accident waiting to happen. So what did? Apparently, Churchill and Sutherland got on well and when he eventually completed his picture both Churchill and Clementine his wife and public relations manager were content with it as a piece of art. But the painting was going to be judged by a wider world.

Westminster Hall, where the unveiling was had to be set up for the event. I can well imagine the comments that might have been made by the lower orders of manual workers who had the job.  At the event itself the thousand or so Lords, M.P's and others would have been largely male.

The Tories would have had serried ranks from the military, it was said that in the constituencies an M.C. carried a lot more weight that some degree or other from Oxbridge, as Margaret Thatcher complained. The Labour Party may have had a few intellectuals keen on modern art. But they had a lot more trade unionists from humble backgrounds and with an earthy sense of humour.

It did not go down well at all and many would have been of the view that whatever the artistic merit or modernism of the work it had no place at Westminster and if anything was of detriment both to the sitter Churchill and to the members that funded it.

The picture was taken down and never put up again at Westminster and it is only recently that we have learned that Clementine's young aides decided to burn it at Chartwell, the Churchill home. They were ladies who perhaps had had a gin and tonic too many for rational thinking.

But now we know and what do we do with the replica? My thought is that it should go to the Blenheim Palace Churchill Exhibition which is where he is born.

Thursday 3 May 2018

Costing The NHS

In the turmoil of our present politics there are a handful of big items that we are told could decide the next General Election, which may or may not be sooner than we think.

There are many puzzles, one of which is the shortage of doctors which it is said is potentially catastrophic. Quite why a state that sends around half of it's youngsters into higher education can finish up seriously short of critical skills in major sectors of state provision is a question that politicians do not like to ask or answer.

But this is only one aspect of the issues relating to the National Health Service, who it is for, how it is paid for and the costs of the whole provision. We are at a loss in deciding what to do.

We have been here before as this new article in LSE History tells us about the 1953 report on NHS costs called for by the 1951 elected Conservative Government faced with picking up the financial pieces of the radical drive to state control and ownership of the Attlee years in a time of Cold War.

Sixty odd years on the world of paper, pens and ink, filing cabinets galore and rooms full of clerks filling in figures it is quaint to see how these problems were approached and analysed. At the time I was helping out an uncle, a recently qualified doctor, with his paperwork.

In later years I was involved in some of the many reorganisations that occurred, usually costs being cited as a major policy determinant. If we did not seem to be wise and organised then, it was as nothing compared to the complex and multi agency mix of services and provision we have now.

Also, people were expected to take care of themselves and others and seek help only when needed. This one could run to a few thousand words, but it is near to lunch so there are other priorities, as our politicians keep telling us, so I will cut to the bone.

If we are to have an NHS in one form or another then it should be funded by a dedicated property tax.

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Making Connections

The latest "Private Eye" has arrived and under "Music And Musicians" tells us that the BBC for all its efforts to broaden its coverage have run up against the Bernstein Foundation of the late composer and his birth centenary is this year.

Lenny ticks a lot of boxes these days and the BBC wanted its concert version of "West Side Story" on the TV in August from the BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall when they are doing two concert performances.

We have been there for live screened performances and also watched TV of Proms shows like this and they usually do a very good job. But no way say the Foundation, it seems that they have a big iron in the fire of Spielberg doing a repeat film version, probably much heavier on the bonk and bash that we are used to.

Along with this is that the lead for Maria, Sierra Boggess, has pulled out on the grounds that as the character is Latino then it should be sung by someone of Latin origin. Why this had not occurred to her much earlier is an interesting question.

"Eye" points out that if parts might only be sung by people with the right DNA this might be a pity. My example is at The Prom in 2000 when we saw Jessye Norman give a wonderful performance and that Schoenberg and Richard Strauss were the composers of the songs was academic.

Schoenberg was greatly influenced by Richard Wagner, yes him and one philosopher who was attracted by Wagner's then new music was Karl Marx, yes him again and stop sighing. Karl was into the serious stuff and favoured Beethoven, Mozart, Handel and Haydn. Possibly all those Bach's were more than he could bite. Mendelssohn was favoured by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who loved a good tune.

In 1881 when Karl was next door to a doorkeeper at the House of Lords along The Strand W.S. Gilbert was penning the libretto for "Iolanthe" which has as one of its major scenes "The Entry of the Lords" singing "Bow bow ye lower middle classes". Who needs philosophers and revolution when you have Gilbert and Sullivan to mock the upper classes?

But back to the 1840's was the Duke of Wellington present as well he might have been when Victoria and Albert were having a musical evening? What might have made his feet tap? He would certainly have liked something Germanic, in that it was Marshal Blucher and his Prussians and Germans who had arrived in the nick of time at Waterloo in 1815 to see off Napoleon.

One of them was Julius Delius, grandfather of Frederick Delius the boy from Bradford who moved to France. Sir Thomas Beecham was a conductor who promoted his work. I saw Beecham a time or two in the '50's at the then new Royal Festival Hall doing his Bach, Schubert and Haydn etc..

It's a small world.