Tag Archives: history

Churchill

A fascinating podcast in which the historian Andrew Roberts discusses his new biography of Winston Churchill, (https://audioboom.com/posts/7039259-churchill-andrew-roberts-in-conversation-with-robert-tombs).

While the conversation between Robert Tombs and Roberts is both interesting and witty, I found the questions posed by members of the audience, following on from the discussion rather more illuminating.

While Roberts is by no means uncritical of Churchill he is (as indeed am I) an admirer of the man who played a pivotal role in saving Europe from Nazi tyranny, and we should all be eternally grateful to Churchill for doing so.

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Does Disraeli Awake?

I would like to think that the author of this article is correct in his view that the Conservative Party is seeing a revival of One-Nation Conservatism/Toryism within it’s ranks, https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/08/why-have-the-tories-abandoned-their-promise-to-fight-burning-injustices/?

“Disabled” By Wilfred Owen

Yesterday (20 July) I came across “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57285/disabled. As someone who is himself disabled (I am registered blind), I was interested to see how one of the great poets of World War I portrays disability.

In “Disabled, Owen describes a young man who enlists in the army while underage, is terribly wounded (he loses both legs and its implied his arms also). Returning to the UK he is institutionilised and (the poem implies) his former joys, including any prospect of a woman’s love are at an end:

“Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands,
All of them touch him like some queer disease”.

In the above lines, Owen falls into the trap of assuming that disabled people are sexless, an idea which still persists to this day amongst some people (including the so-called educated sections of the population). Throughout history disabled people have (to state the obvious) had sexual relations both within marriage and outside of that institution. Here Owen is projecting his own view of disability onto an unnamed and depersonalised individual who has been horribly injured in war.

Having said the above, it remains as true today (as it did in Owen’s time) that many people will not entertain the idea of entering into a relationship with a person who has a disability. However it is by no means unusual for someone who is disabled to have a non-disabled partner (as a visually impaired man most of my relationships have been with sighted women).

The poem ends on the same sad note, that of a man who has lost all joy in living, including the possibility of finding love:

“Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don’t they come
And put him into bed? Why don’t they come?”.

(For an interesting article on the poem please see this piece on Disability Arts Online, http://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/war-poem-disabled-wilfred-owen/).

Lord Salisbury Quotes

“By a free country I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like.

That is not my notion of freedom”.

“A gram of experience is worth a ton of theory”.

“The days and weeks of screwed-up smiles and laboured courtesy, the mock geniality, the hearty shake of the filthy hand, the chuckling reply that must be made to the coarse joke, the loathsome, choking compliment that must be paid to the grimy wife and sluttish daughter, the indispensable flattery of the vilest religious prejudices, the wholesale deglutition of hypocritical pledges”. (Lord Salisbury on electoral canvasing. No politician would, I feel sure venture to publicly express such views as regards the electorate of the United Kingdom today).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Gascoyne-Cecil,_3rd_Marquess_of_Salisbury

Civilisation

Had I the money, I would withdraw
From the world’s incessant roar
And wait in my gated home
For civilisation to be as Rome.

But no,
Perhaps we can avoid a collapse
And the roar
Will go
On as before.

Legacy

Some things
Have wings
Of light,
While others fly at night
Their poison carrying down the years,
Provoking bitter tears.

One such has gone
But his legacy lives on
In those who can not wait
To employ their knuckles tattooed with “Hate”.

An intelligent man
Frequently can
Do more harm
Than a stupid one,
For he is possessed of charm
And learning to.
True he has gone
But the bitterness lives on.

The word “fascist” is ugly to me
And I can not agree
With those who would label him so,
Yet I know
That it is possible to stoke
The fire and deplore the thuggish smoke
On which we all choke.

This is not quite fair
As there where
Racists ere
He spoke.
Yet he threw a match
Which did catch
Provoking flame
Blame
And smoke.

Conspiracies

Conspiracy theory
Most dreary.
“Little green men are getting into my head”
He said.
“The Russians didn’t poison those people in Salisbury you know …”.

On and on they go
The crackpots who have heard or read
Something crazy and, of course it is true!
“The Jew
Is controlling the world and the holocaust is a lie”.
I wonder why people deny
History’s weight
And give way to hate.

The holocaust did take place
But weirdos and extremists after fantasies chase
While fake “historians” grin
And coin it in.

“Little green men” are harmless
While holocaust deniers are charmless
(But by no means harmless)!

Putin must be laughing up his sleeve
At the gullible idiots who believe
That Britain released a nerve agent on it’s own street.
So I greet
Each conspiracy theory
Most dreary
With a contemptuous smile
While
I bite my tongue lest my disdain
Is made plain in words.