His Kingdom For A Hearse

With England burying one of its monarchs today, 530 years late, I thought it appropriate to re-post this item from March 25,  2012. Greatest Britain   What makes Britain great? There is, of course, no single answer (and the French would suggest there is no question), but the nation that gave the world its principal parliamentary…

Celebrity Squares

Adolf Hitler is, for me, ancient history, while Churchill is almost pinchable. Why the distinction regarding two implacable foes, the height of whose infamy and fame coincided exactly? It is simply because, by the time I was born, Hitler had been dead for over a decade, while I remember Churchill's funeral,  50 years ago next…

Christmas Cheer

The spirit of Christmas Present materialized in the wake of the sensational success of  'A Christmas Carol'. Britain which, despite French whinging, was - in 1843 - the world's superdooperpower, had been struggling with Christmas traditions and what-not for years. Dickens's simple short story of a tyrannical, lonely employer mirrored against his put-upon employee (the latter having a loving,…

For Whom The Bell Tolls

The scene - a church graveyard in Middle England. A respectable crowd, trussed-up in winter clothes, surrounds an open grave. As the coffin is lowered into the gaping hole, the priest declares: 'The Mother of Parliaments gave, and the Mother of Parliaments hath taken away.' A sharply dressed gentleman throws the first clod of earth onto the…

Hungary for knowledge

1984 (the 326 page book, rather than the 366 day year of the same name) describes how a totalitarian regime could keep a lid  on knowledge through a Ministry of Truth, Newspeak's Doublethink, and the dreaded Thought Police. Democratically elected governments have, traditionally, had more trouble in keeping a handle, let alone a lid, on…

Foul!

"I fail to understand why any of you would be interested in twenty-two illiterate young men kicking an inflated pig's bladder around an oblong of grass." A bible-bashing preacher doing the rounds of Lancashire's pubs in late-Victorian England? Not quite. Actually, the headmaster of my school (see previous post) in mid- 1973 berating a hodgepodge of gormless…

Down Wiv Skool

I was chatting the other night with my middle son when he came out with the word "procrastinate". He also knew what it meant - not bad for a young man neither born nor bred in an English-speaking country. While 'procrastinate' is not as complicated as 'antidisestablishmentarianism,' the word does have as many syllables as  that old spelling bee…

Deading The Fat Man

Moral Dilemma - two words that do not feature prominently , jointly or severally, in the tax advisor's lexicon. In the first half of the 20th Century when world wars were all the rage,  moral dilemmas evolved from the gritty reality of combat.  By the late sixties serious debate was banished to the periphery of existence…

Go ahead punk, make my day

"This tape will self-destruct in five seconds." In the 1960s, while the mission may have been impossible, information protection was very possible. Burned, swallowed or - until a bunch of  bored  students  were looking for something to do at the US Embassy in Teheran - shredded, there was no difficulty eradicating the evidence from the face of the earth.…

Whole in one

"I said: 'Remember Lot’s wife. Never look back.' I don’t know whether Henry had read the Old Testament or not, but I had, and he got the point." Thus spake that most Nietzschean of US Presidents, Richard Milhous Nixon, to Sir David Frost  back in 1977, mocking his former Secretary of State's qualms about invading…