The Empire strikes back

The Empire strikes back: This awesome painting of a bloodied British soldier will star in a brave new exhibition of the Empire’s most stirring masterpieces. And it will drive the PC lobby hopping mad!  HUZZA! 

‘The Remnants of an Army’ 1879 by Elizabeth Butler (Lady Butler) 1846-1933 

Nestled in the dusty hills of eastern Afghanistan, the British sentries on the walls of Jalalabad saw a speck in the distance that afternoon of January 13, 1842. As the speck came closer, they realised it was a man, bloodied and weary, astride an exhausted horse. It was Dr William Brydon, assistant surgeon in the British Army that had occupied the Afghan capital, Kabul, just over two years earlier.
Brydon was in a terrible state. Part of his skull had been sheared off by Afghan attackers, and it was a miracle he was still alive. Where, his rescuers asked, was the rest of the British Army? Brydon stared back at them. Then he said hoarsely: ‘I am the Army.’

To the Victorian public, the story of Dr Brydon, the lone survivor, became an irresistible reminder of the dangers of imperial hubris. Years later, his story was immortalised in a stunningly powerful painting by Elizabeth Butler, pointedly titled The Remnants Of An Army — a picture that, in the aftermath of our latest retreat from Afghanistan, is charged with a new poignancy.General Gordon's Last Stand

‘General Gordon’s Last Stand’ by George William Joy (July 7, 1844 in Dublin, Ireland – October 28, 1925. 

It is a relief to see that, on this evidence, the Tate’s exhibition will not present the story of the Empire as a simplistic, hand-wringing tale of wicked British colonialists and virtuous, oppressed natives. For the truth, as the best historians have shown, is that the Empire was always a collaborative enterprise, in which British merchants, administrators and missionaries often worked hand in glove with local people themselves. 

During the heyday of the Raj, for example, barely 20,000 British administrators and soldiers ruled an Indian population more than 300 million strong. As any sensible observer would surely conclude, they could only have done so with the close co-operation of the Indians themselves.

This is not, however, what many Left-wing writers like to believe. They prefer an infantile fairy story in which hard-faced British oppressors went out across the world to steal and murder, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.
And to their undying shame, some of our less principled politicians have endorsed this twisted view of our history. Tony Blair, for example, loved nothing better than going around the world offering unctuous apologies for Britain’s alleged sins, from our role in the slave trade to the mishandling of the Irish potato famine.
The occupation of Afghanistan had been a disaster, and the British retreat from Kabul, in which almost 17,000 were massacred by tribesmen, was one of the greatest military catastrophes in history.Alphonse_de_Neuville_-_The_defence_of_Rorke's_Drift_1879_-_Google_Art_Project

I’ve added the above painting for the sheer hell of it; ‘The Battle of Rorke’s Drift’ which took place in Natal during the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879 – by Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville. De Neuville based the painting on eye-witness accounts and it depicts several events of the battle occurring at once. It shows actual defenders depicted in the painting.

As far as I’m concerned – the lily livered politically correct can go sit on a brass gun pintle mount, and swivel!  It is history, and forms part of Great Britain’s foundation stones. And if ever I see Tony B’Liar in the street, I’ll spit in his rancid eyes. Begging your pardon from all non-politically correct readers… Yours_Aye.

‘David v Goliath’ Bare Knuckle Gentlemen

2A9C900C00000578-0-image-m-71_1437134169788The plucky Birmingham bare-knuckle boxer who took on the World Champion – in a ‘David v Goliath’ bout that lasted more than THREE HOURS and landed him in jail It was a bare-knuckle ‘David v Goliath’ fight which lasted more than three hours and left both boxers unrecognisable.2A9C974E00000578-0-image-m-79_1437134237144
2A9C9A9B00000578-0-image-a-80_1437134245797

Plucky Birmingham prize-fighter Charley Mitchell, (Left) who had a fearsome reputation for taking on men much bigger than him, had gone toe to toe with the unofficial world heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan (Right) and somehow survived the illegal organised brawl. 

With the rain pouring on the French Chateau where the fight took place in 1888, it took the intervention of the police to call a halt to the 39 round epic duel. Mitchell’s story has been retold on the eve of an auction which will see the boxing belt he was gifted go on sale for £20,000. Mitchell’s story has been retold on the eve of an auction which will see the boxing belt he was gifted go on sale for £20,000.

As a wee nipper, I once watched my Uncle Jim bare-knuckle fight an Irish navvie, where much claret was spilled – by the navvie. Uncle Jim’s second was his cousin Billy, so those betting on the loser coughed up their cash accordingly. A second gadgie stepped up and took the bet thinking Uncle Jim was puffed out – after a few blows he too went down to inspect the cobble stones at eye level. A police whistle eventually scattered the crowd, which meant I could follow my childhood hero to the pub without being seen. Not so! Billy pointed me out, and I was given a finger wagging by ‘Big Jim,’ as well as ‘two bob’ for fish & chips and my bus fare home.

His final instructions were: “Don’t tell your Gran!” It makes me chuckle to this day to think that my 6 foot 4 inch father and uncles were terrified of their own mother, who stood under 5 feet. Though she could wield the steel poker from the fire-place as skilfully as a ninja! I wish Apple would hurry up and invent their iTravelMachine, I’ve got places to revisit.   Yours_Aye.

A Gentleman’s Club for men – only.

‘There are three intolerable things in life,” Orson Welles once decreed, “cold coffee, lukewarm champagne, and over excited women.” 

For almost two centuries, the Garrick has spared its 1300 members this triad of unpleasantness and on Monday the club voted to safe-guard the famously exclusive club’s 184-year rule against female membership. 

The Garrick Club has broken a recent trend among gentleman’s clubs by voting against admitting women as members; By Celia-Walden

My garden shed is deemed a Gentleman’s Club (house trained canine’s accepted – but on their best behaviour at all times.) Pimm’s in Summer – Bushmill’s ‘Black Bush’ hot toddies in Winter. One needs to attend early to be guaranteed a seat, as there are only two available… Harrumph!   Yours_Aye.

Sir Nicholas Winton dies aged 106.

Dubbed ‘Britain’s Schindler’, Sir Nicholas Winton MBE saved the lives of 669 Jewish children from the Holocaust during the Second World War. Winton earned himself the label “Britain’s Schindler” for saving the lives of 669 children by sending them from Prague to London by train.

While agencies were organising the mass evacuation of children from Austria and Germany, there was no such provision in Czechoslovakia. Sir Nicholas returned to Britain and masterminded the rescue mission, finding adoptive homes for children and securing exit and entry permits for them. On some occasions he forged Home Office documents, which had been too slow to arrive and without which, the children would not have been allowed to leave. 

Sir Nicholas George Winton, MBE (born Nicholas Wertheim, 19 May 1909 – 1 July 2015) The measure of a brave decent man, and a true humanitarian to the very end.    Yours Aye.

Heritage – Not – Hatred

Southern Flag is Heritage not HateOne man’s flag is their heritage, yet to another, it is a political self serving sign of hatred. Thrown into the mix are spineless politicians – who flip-flop from side to side to keep voters sweet. All the while – the liberal left-wing media kowtow to the high and mighty clown in the White House, in the hope that the next in line will hail from the same dynasty.occupy-burning-flag1

And then we have the lowest of the lowest. Lickspittle delusional celebrities, who prostrate themselves and wail out loud in the hope it will extend their popularity with the kowtowing media, and their public. Thus the cycle of insanity is almost complete, we just need to add the thoughts and actions of the mindless 1%, who will burn either flag…

Fortunately, there are many more who do have a solid spine, and make their feelings known through their knowledge of American history. Step forward Allen West with five solid reasons.   Yours Aye.     

Very Many Thanks to BigSkyCountry for the ‘heads up’.

“A drop of Nelson’s blood”

Daniel Maclise TheDeathofNelson‘By Gad Sirrah!’ It has to be said that ‘I’m a lucky sort of chap at times.’ More so than the famous Vice Admiral depicted in the centre of the painting (click pic to enlarge), whose actions took out the Franco-Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar – 21st October 1805.Flagon of Neslons Blood

The sad misfortune of Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, has once again proven to be my very good fortune. In as much, that this morning I received a gifted Flagon of Nelson’s Blood in return for a long – forgotten favour.

Drop by any time old mate, just don’t wait for another five years to pass… Yours Aye.

 

Battle of Waterloo 18 June 1815

The bicentenary of The Battle of Waterloo. Fought on Sunday, 18th June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A British square puts up dogged resistance against attacking French cavalry.  Carnage, utter bloody carnage and organised chaos…Charge_of_the_French_Cuirassiers_at_Waterloo-1

Modern day technical analysis of The Battle of Waterloo (above) combined with historical facts, enables a far better understanding to the event. If you have 48 minutes to spare, it’s well worth viewing. If you fall short of a spare 48 minutes, then perhaps you could squeeze in 28 minutes, and listen to Professor Richard Holmes wax lyrical about the whole battle (below.) The clip may fail to open, but a click on ‘YouTube’ will remedy the same.   Yours Aye.

One man’s prison, another’s castle

Britain’s forgotten relics: Book reveals over 250 breathtaking hidden wonders from abandoned castles to crumbling follies that are right on our doorstep but often overlooked.BNPS.co.uk (01202 558833)øPic: DaveHamilton/BNPSø The Maunsell Forts were small fortified towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War. The hidden locations of hundreds of historic ruins and forgotten relics have been revealed in the first ever guide to Britain's crumbling past. Author Dave Hamilton has spent more than three years travelling the length and breadth of the country chronicling little-known and hard-to-find remains of abandoned castles, churches, settlements and industrial works. His new book, Wild Ruins, lifts the lid on more than 250 haunting sites nationwide in a bid to reconnect people with the country's history.Author David Hamilton set out to reconnect the nation with the wonders located within the UK. His book, Wild Ruins, explores 250 breathtaking locations including an 18th century folly found off the beaten track in woodland in Racton near Chichester. His research spanned over three years, which he spent exploring the country to learn about little-known and hard-to-find remains of abandoned castles, churches, settlements and industrial works. Wild Ruins on sale £16.99.29709B6800000578-0-image-m-25_1433774365884Fountains Abbey located around three miles south-west of Ripon in North Yorkshire…..image305

I’ve no doubt the book will sell, but I do take issue with the headline that British castles and folly’s are overlooked – they are well-known to those who walk their local countryside and far beyond, but hardly overlooked. The bulk of city dwellers probably fall foul of not viewing such ancient curiosity’s – thank Gawd I’m not one of them.

Outside of Yorkshire, my two favourite castles are Bamburgh Castle, and Alnwick Castle, which is down to fond childhood memories. One of my favourite little folly’s is the Old Toll building turned coffee-house ‘ThePerkyPeacock,’ which is down to a choice of great coffee and excellent food.      Yours Aye.

Have you seen this man?

2954C48300000578-3110661-image-a-1_1433409307632Who was the Saxon buried beneath Lincoln Castle? Experts reconstruct face of the mystery man in a bid to try to identify him. The skeleton appears to have been originally wrapped in a finely woven textile and this material suggests the bones were part of a ‘votive deposit’ – when holy relics are placed within a wall to dedicate the building and create a sacred place for religious people to visit. 

Archaeologists have even speculated this body may have belonged to a Saxon king or bishop. The position of the reconstructed man’s grave meant his skull was the best preserved and allowed the experts from the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification to recreate his face.  Lincoln Castle belowarticle-2352299-1A9A0B8C000005DC-510_634x329Who on earth would be around today to identify him? Methinks the columnist has been hitting litre bottles of ‘vino collapso’  – hard!   Yours Aye.

Well and truly stoned…

288DE67600000578-3077901-image-a-2_1431420080114Bronze Age stone circle ‘found’ for the first time in 100 years on Dartmoor – and it could be older than Stonehenge.  An impressive stone circle in Dartmoor is the first to be discovered in a century, archaeologists have revealed. The ancient circle would have formed part of a ‘sacred arc’ of sites on the moor, suggesting a high level of coordination between Bronze Age communities. And the remote location and sheer ambition of the arc suggests careful planning went into its construction, experts said.2894DF5300000578-3077901-image-a-3_1431422144535 The circle, that sits on Sittaford Tor, in Devon, is the highest circle in southern England at 1,722 ft (525 metres) above sea level, and the second largest on Dartmoor with a diameter of 112 ft (34 metres).

It’s hardly just been found – thousands of Bootneck’s have yomped across Dartmoor and bivvied out around each of her Tor’s since 1960. It is fair to say archeologists have just realised the stones were toppled over in the early Bronze age, a theory now proven using carbon dating technology. On more than one occasion, I’ve parked my weary buttocks on one of the stones, and flashed up a small petrol stove to make big eats – followed by a wet of tea accompanied by a packet of dead fly biscuits…  Aye. 

“Muck and money go together”

281BFBFC00000578-3047560-image-a-125_1430238711509Broken toilet leads to 2,000 years of history: Incredible find unearths ancient tomb, Roman granary, and etchings from the Knights Templar. 

A search for a sewage pipe beneath an Italian restaurant yielded two centuries worth of history. Lucian Faggiano bought the building in Lecce, Puglia in the south of Italy and had planned to turn it into a ‘trattoria’ – but renovations were put on hold when he discovered a toilet on the site was blocked.  

While attempting to fix the toilet he dug into a Messapian tomb built 2,000 years ago, where he discovered a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel, and even etchings thought to be made by the Knights Templar. The cavernous property has since been turned into a museum so visitors can easily view the remains.

We have a saying here in Yorkshire “Where there’s muck there’s brass” which, more often than not – is very true…      Yours Aye.

“Bugger that for a game of soldiers!”

A damn close run thing: 200 years on, this amazingly restored model shows the full extent of the Battle of Waterloo – and how many did not survive the day. An enormous diorama which shows the full extent of the Battle of Waterloo has gone on display to mark the 200th anniversary of the conflict.      Click on pic’s to enlarge.2761238900000578-3030264-image-m-8_1428539949900The model contains more than 30,000 figures, and illustrates all the key moments of the battle which allowed the Duke of Wellington to defeat Napoleon’s forces. 275D9ACC00000578-3030264-image-m-33_1428493292285It was built in the 1970s, but fell into disrepair before being restored to its former glory just in time for the battle’s bicentenary, which falls on June 18 of this year.

You’d need the patience of a saint to dust and assemble the whole diorama; “Bugger that for a game of soldiers!”  I ain’t no saint – though I ain’t no devil neither…    Yours Aye.

What have the Roman’s done for us?

What have the Roman’s done for us – apart from sanitation, medicine, indoor heating, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health! It appears they also gave us strains of tuberculosis, according to Geneticists at the University of Warwick!   With apologies to Monty Python, and Brian; “Who is not the Messiah – he’s a very naughty boy.”       Yours Aye.

The little dictator – French of course

Eastlake - Napoleon on the BellerophonNapoleon was the real winner of Waterloo… claim the French! Re-enactment set to mark bi-centenary will ignore history. It is not so much a bid to rewrite history as a blatant attempt at match-rigging. For the French are claiming that Napoleon – not Wellington – was the true hero of Waterloo. 

Napoleon a dejected prisoner on HMS Bellerophon. (aka ‘Billy Ruffian’)

In a reconstruction to mark this year’s bicentenary of the battle, they plan to ignore the fact that he emerged utterly defeated.  Instead, they want to portray the French emperor as the winner over a ‘frightful’ English nobody. But the sabre-rattling ahead of the commemorations in Belgium this summer was quickly dismissed by historians. French re-enactment  society claim Napoleon was the real winner at the Battle of Waterloo      Click on pics to enlarge…Wellingtons-squares-2Of Interest Perhaps: Wellington’s use of concealed infantry squares was the undoing of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The main usage of the squares were the hollow formations throughout the Napoleonic wars, sometimes the formation could also be more rectangular. Each side of the square would have a minimum of two ranks (usually four in the case of Wellingtons) of infantry with bayonets fixed on their single shot muskets. The first rank would be kneeling with the muskets shining bayonets pointing at an angle of around 45 degree. The second and/or third ranks would be stood with the bayonet fixed muskets to the shoulder taking aim and ready for the order to open fire in rank order. The third and/or fourth ranks would be reloading the muskets for the ranks in front.Wellingtons-squares-1Such a square of this type would require around 500 soldiers, the officers with a reserve force would be positioned in the centre, the reserve force would be utilised to fill gaps that might appear in the squares, and these squares would also be very tightly packed shoulder to shoulder. The infantry would wait until an advancing cavalry was at a range of 30 metres and then the commanders would give the order to open fire, the idea was to try ensure the fallen cavalry caused problems with the cavalry behind, therefore slowing the advance and allowing the infantry to change muskets for the loaded one.

‘Wellington’s infantry squares at Waterloo with stood 11 cavalry charges.’      Yours Aye.

‘Old Nosey’ the ‘Iron Duke’

The Duke of Wellington’s heroes finally win Waterloo memorial on Belgian battlefield – 100 years after the French placed one. It was, perhaps, Britain’s greatest military victory – the ferocious confrontation that finally ended the tyrannical reign of Napoleon Bonaparte.24204EF300000578-2882154-image-a-10_1419117293525Yet 200 years after the Battle of Waterloo, astonishingly there is still no memorial on the site to commemorate the remarkable bravery of the British troops who fought and died there – although there is a memorial to the defeated French. Now that injustice is finally about to be righted. A monument designed by sculptress Vivien Mallock will be opened on the battlefield in Belgium next year.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe work will feature two British soldiers and quotes from the Duke of Wellington, who led the British forces, one reading ‘Next to a battle lost the greatest misery is a battle gained’, the other saying, ‘Never was a place more fiercely assaulted nor better defended’. Standing just over 6ft high, the memorial commemorates the moment when a predominantly British contingent of 4,000 soldiers defended the pivotal location of Hougoumont Farm and its surroundings from a vastly superior French force.800px-Waterloo_derniers_combattantsThe lack of an official memorial for British troops has been a sore point for decades and has fuelled speculation that successive British governments and the Belgium authorities have been reluctant to push the issue for fear of upsetting the French. By contrast, the French have had a memorial on the site (above) called The Wounded Eagle, since 1904.Wellington

 Wellington’s heroes finally win Waterloo memorial on Belgian battlefield

‘Old Nosey’ the ‘Iron Duke’ can stop turning in his grave at the slight cast upon the Coldstream Guards. And about bloody time too – 200 years indeed!       Yours Aye.