St George and tomato bread

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

23 April 2014

Today is the feast-day in the Christian calendar of mythical dragon-slayer St George.

St George is the patron saint of England.

Today, therefore, will be an occasion for the celebration of Englishness by English patriots. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, washed down with English ale, will be the staple at dinners eaten tonight by chauvinists throughout the land.

It is customary on such occasions to cite an oft-recited passage from Shakespeare’s Henry V (Act 3, Scene 1). In this passage, the king (referred to demotically as “Harry”) gives a pep talk to his troops as they prepare to fight the French:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our English dead.

In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;

Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;

Let pry through the portage of the head

Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it

As fearfully as doth a galled rock

O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,

Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.

Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,

Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit

To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.

Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!

Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,

Have in these parts from morn till even fought

And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:

Dishonour not your mothers; now attest

That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.

Be copy now to men of grosser blood,

And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,

Whose limbs were made in England, show us here

The mettle of your pasture; let us swear

That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;

For there is none of you so mean and base,

That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,

Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge

Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

However, England does not have a monopoly on St George.

Other nations too lay claim to his patronage.

Catalonia, for instance, the Spanish nation whose government is now actively seeking independence from Spain’s central Castilian government, to which it is subordinate.

However, today’s celebrations in Catalonia, one imagines, are more likely to involve “pan amb tomate” (bread with tomato) than Yorkshire pudding.

The United Kingdom is composed of three nations and part of another country: England, Scotland, Wales and six counties in the north of Ireland. Of these four entities, by far the most important is England.

However, this may be the last St George’s Day that the Kingdom dominated by England is so composed.

Because on 18 September this year the Scots – whose patron saint is not St George but St Andrew (feast day: 30 November) – will decide in a referendum whether they want to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent state.

Opinion polls suggest that this is unlikely but the odds are shortening as the date of the referendum approaches.

If the Scots do vote for independence, this will give a boost to separatist movements elsewhere in Europe, including Catalonia.

All this naturally poses a problem for St George.

The English, who have always been reluctant to relinquish their domination of subordinate countries, will look to St George to do what he can to retain Scotland within the United Kingdom.

The Catalonians, by contrast, will want the same saint to abet their move towards independence.

It’s no easy life being a saint!

Antigone1984:

Here at Antigone1984, for better or worse, we are not overly concerned with spiritual patronage.

However, in general we do support independence for small nations that seek to break out of the fetters of subordination to larger national groups. Small is beautiful.

Thus, we support independence for Scotland and for Catalonia. We also support independence for Spain’s Basque region and we think that Northern Ireland should be reunited with the rest of Ireland – from which it was artificially severed by the United Kingdom government in 1921.

For a less whimsical, if still partisan, reflection on this subject, readers might like to check out two of our earlier posts:

patriotism (1)

patriotism (2)

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 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

  1. Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

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Posted in Basque Country, Europe, France, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, UK, Wales | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Scoop! Hold the front page!

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

7 April 2014

SHOCK HORROR DOWN UNDER! ROYAL PARENTS “CARRY” BABY SON OFF PLANE!

Millions of viewers and listeners throughout the world allegedly tune in to the daily bulletins of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the belief that they will get a well-researched and unbiased up-to-the-minute account of the most significant items of hot news that day.

Certainly there is no shortage of newsworthy events happening at the moment – the continuing turmoil in Ukraine, the collapse of the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, the elections in India and Afghanistan, the 20the anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, mounting repression by the US-backed military dictatorship in Egypt, and so on.

So it’s good to find that the BBC has its finger on the pulse of the world’s latest mega-story.

This morning the corporation’s world news home page had the following headline item emblazoned across it:

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carry Prince George off plane at start of three-week tour of New Zealand and Australia.”

What were they expecting? That his parents would toss the eight-month-old future King down on to the tarmac?

Good to know that BBC standards are as reliable as ever when it comes to concocting schmaltzy tosh about the regular taxpayer-financed freebies enjoyed by unelected members of the Windsor family.

As we often say in these columns, you could not make it up.

We do feel sorry, however, for those millions of poor suckers around the world who are taken in by the charade that passes for BBC impartiality, independence and news sense.

——–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

  1. Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

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Posted in Afghanistan, Australia, Egypt, India, Israel, New Zealand, Palestine, Politics, UK, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hay Wrap

Antigone1984:

This nugget is performed by Irish rock band “The Saw Doctors”, which was formed in Tuam, County Galway, in 1986.

 

Posted in Ireland, Music | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t fix it if it’s not broken!

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

22 January 2014

Children from two to ten years old should “feel the texture of a  book and the printed word in reading and writing and the physical holding of of it”.

This was the reply of Irish Education Minister Ruairí Quinn in the Dáil (Parliament, Lower House) this week to Clare Daly (Teachta Dála – Member of Parliament)) who had asked about the move away from written books towards iPads and e-books.

Antigone1984:

Let’s hear it for Mr Quinn!

Antigone1984 is increasingly opposed to so called progress that involves the unending purchase of expensive electronic  gadgets to perform a function – reading – that was perfectly feasible at one hundredth of the price before the electronic marketing industry set out to persuade consumers that they would be social zilch unless they outlaid their hard-won earnings on cyber plastic.

Go have a shufti at the illuminated manuscript of the Latin Gospels in the Book of Kells – handwritten around 800 BC – in the numinous Old Library at Dublin’s Trinity College (built 1712-1732).

Then say that you’d prefer pixels!

—–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

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Posted in Education, Ireland, Literature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bowling googlies

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

21 January 2014

Never trust the buggers, whatever they say!

Hardly a day passes without further evidence – as if we needed it – that statements by public figures, particularly politicians, should be simply ignored unless there is rock-solid third-party confirmation of the truth of the assertion being made.

Britain was recently subject to widespread flooding.

According to yesterday’s London Guardian newspaper, environment secretary Owen Paterson falsely claimed that government spending on flood protection had increased, “as his junior minister Dan Rogerson has now admitted”.

However, according to the newspaper, instead of frankly acknowledging that the environment department had got it wrong, Rogerson merely said that the figures were “subject to minor discrepancies”.

Nice one, Cyril!

The paper goes on to list a number of other well-known euphemisms.

Winston Churchill, UK prime minister during and after the Second World War, is said to have once accused an opponent of “terminological inexactitude”. What he meant was that his adversary was lying.

Another famous euphemism is attributed to former Japanese emperor Hirohito. When Japan, defeated, surrendered to the Yanks at the end of the Second World War, Hirohito informed the population that the war “had developed in a way not necessarily to Japan’s advantage”.

Of course, the resort to euphemistic obfuscation is not confined to politicians.

In a case involving testimony given by US actress Jayne Mansfield, a policeman asked whether she had been lying. No, Mansfield replied, she had not been lying. She had simply “redimensioned the truth a little”.

Playing with a straight bat is not a feature of public life.

——–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

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Posted in Japan, UK, USA | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crystal balls-up

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

20 January 2014

One great advantage of the present time, which is the outcome of many past disadvantages and much tribulation, is that men have had their fill of fighting.”

The Spectator magazine, London, 1913.

Antigone1984:

They’d best stay out of Paddy Power!

——–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Europe, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Russia, UK, UN, USA | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dancing in the rain

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

13 January 2014

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning how to dance in the rain.

Advice in a letter – author’s name not available – to Simon Hoggart (1946-2014), the popular London Guardian columnist who died on 5 January.

——–

 You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts.  For instance:

1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)

2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)

3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)

4. Capitalism in practice  (4 July 2012) 

5.Ladder  (21 June 2012)

 6. A tale of two cities (1)  (6 June 2012)

 7. A tale of two cities (2)  (7 June 2012)

 8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)

Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.

——-

 

Posted in Guardian, Music, UK | Tagged , , | Leave a comment