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One of my readers, Boetie (‘Brother’), asked for my view of the future of UKIP and Nigel Farage in light of Brexit.

UKIP past

The following will make it clear why many people in Britain had little time for UKIP, although they do acknowledge that if it hadn’t been for Nigel Farage, David Cameron would never have given us the EU Referendum nor would we have the Brexit result today. Therefore, Farage has delivered.

UKIP supporters make Farage out to be a national hero. Yes, he is very interesting and well informed. I have seen him speak in person. He graciously answered the questions I had about his party’s direction. And, yes, it was great seeing him on the hustings with a cigarette and a pint.

However, let’s not forget that, in 2009, Farage was called to account about his MEP expenses. The Observer (The Guardian‘s sister Sunday paper) has a good article from May 2009 which provides much detail. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

The leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip), which wants to lead Britain out of the EU, has taken £2m of taxpayers’ money in expenses and allowances as a member of the European Parliament, on top of his £64,000 a year salary.

Nigel Farage, who is calling on voters to punish “greedy Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs” at the European elections on 4 June, boasted of his personal expenses haul at a meeting with foreign journalists in London last week …

During a debate about Europe at the Foreign Press Association – which was discreetly taped by the hosts – Farage was asked by former Europe minister Denis MacShane what he had received in non-salary expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999.

“It is a vast sum,” Farage said. “I don’t know what the total amount is but – oh lor – it must be pushing £2 million.” Taken aback, MacShane then joked: “Is it too late to become an MEP?”

Farage insisted that he had not “pocketed” the money but had used the “very large sum of European taxpayers’ money” to help promote Ukip’s message that the UK should get out of the EU.

That is the main reason why I could never go gaga over Farage or UKIP.

Here is another. The Observer helpfully summarises what happened after the 2004 European elections and UKIP’s success. This was two years before Farage became party leader, incidentally:

… one of the dozen, Ashley Mote, was expelled from the party – and later jailed – for benefit fraud. Another, Tom Wise, is now facing prosecution for alleged false accounting and money laundering relating to his EU expenses. He denies the charges. Television presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk, who won the East Midlands for Ukip, later left to form another eurosceptic outfit, Veritas.

Kilroy-Silk, a former Labour MP prior to presenting his erstwhile morning current events show, did the right thing by leaving UKIP. He left Veritas in 2009, and the party was absorbed into the English Democrats in 2015.

Money aside — perhaps it is no coincidence the £ sign appears in the party logo — one then needs to look at what UKIP MEPs and councillors have said. Thejournal.ie has a round-up of some of their statements from 2004 to 2015. Several follow.

Godfrey Bloom (MEP who has since left the party) said in 2004 that a small business owner would have have to be a ‘lunatic’ to employ a woman of child-bearing age.

David Silvester (councillor, expelled from the party) said in January 2014 that the disastrous flooding in England was caused by the Coalition government’s decision to bring in same-sex marriage. He had also written to No. 10:

I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

Janice Atkinson (MEP) described a self-employed UKIP-supporting Thai lady with British citizenship as a ‘ting-tong from somewhere’ in August 2014. ‘Ting-tong’ not only sounds bad, but in Thai it is a derogatory term denoting madness. Not surprisingly, the lady and her husband withdrew their UKIP membership.

Bill Etheridge (MEP) praised Hitler for his ‘forceful’ manner of oration. That was at a talk in November 2014 in the north of England.

Rozanne Duncan (councillor) said in a Channel 4 documentary in 2015 that she did not like ‘negroes’. She talked about it for three minutes.

UKIP supporters

During the general election campaign of 2015, UKIP supporters trolled in comments sections everywhere, most notably those of The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Spectator.

Those sites were deluged with the same cut-and-paste messages — many of them lengthy — from the same people day after day after day. Those people should have been banned, not for what they were saying but for the nauseating spamming of those sites.

While the overwhelming majority of UKIP voters and supporters are responsible, well-meaning people who are rightly concerned about the changes they have seen in their local areas over the past 15 years, there is a kernel of support from a handful of extremist-sympathisers. I have read many comments over the years from this tiny faction of UKIP supporters discussing their attendance at fringe/extremist marches.

Farage attempted to change party image

So far, there is something to be said for David Cameron’s referring to UKIP as ‘loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists’.

He said that in 2006 and again in the run-up to the 2015 election.

Fellow Conservative Michael Howard, Cameron’s predecessor, also labelled UKIP as ‘cranks and gadflies’ during his time as party leader.

Farage, who is married to a German, did his best to cleanse that image but with his MEPs and councillors saying silly and stupid things, the tarnish remained.

However, UKIP have gained strength in parts of the South East and the North in recent years among voters who have legitimate concerns.

Nigel Farage

Farage stood down as party leader within days of Brexit.

Leave voters thought he would stay on to police the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome. However, that was not to be, for whatever reason.

The ironic thing about his abrupt resignation was that, just hours before he made the announcement, UKIP supporters were writing at length anticipating that Farage would not be getting a seat at the Brexit table. In summary (sarcasm alert): ‘Waaaah! The mean, nasty Tories will ignore our Nigel!’

Maybe that’s because Nigel didn’t want to play anymore.

He will, however, continue as an MEP in Brussels. Perhaps his attendance will improve. He shouldn’t forget who’s paying his salary: the taxpayers.

The future — a new party?

Personally, I really do hope UKIP sink like a stone.

The party was weird to begin with and never changed.

Businessman and entrepreneur Arron Banks has given much money and time to UKIP. He also gave £5.6 million to Leave.EU during the referendum campaign.

Banks told The Guardian that UKIP might be pruned back, but he seems to favour a brand new party in a Brexit era. Infinitely preferable, in my humble opinion.

“Ukip grew so rapidly it had problems with personnel and all sorts of issues and I believe that could be better tackled with a new party,” he said …

I think we have a good shot at taking over from Labour as the opposition because Labour are imploding and Labour voters for the first time ever have defied their party, voting for leave,” Banks said on Wednesday.

But he hinted Farage might not be his choice of leader for any new party, saying: “He may have had enough. And by the way, going out at the top is a good way in politics.”

Indeed. Banks should start afresh. He understands what is needed:

Banks has been credited with professionalising Ukip’s referendum push through the Leave.EU campaign. He deployed senior executives and staff from his insurance companies and hired the Washington DC political campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster on a multimillion-pound fee to sharpen its message.

“It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

Agreed.

I wish Arron Banks the best of luck in putting his project together.

2016 is a year of huge change. The spate of obituaries during the first three months of this year in the US, UK and France signalled the end of an era. More recently, we saw more change with Brexit. We now have a new, no-nonsense Prime Minister. We might well see a Trump victory in November.

Before the year is out, we might also see a new political party in Britain capturing the hearts and minds of many, particularly in England: a new party for a new era.

Boetie, I hope this responds adequately to your request. If not, please feel free to let me know.

On Tuesday, July 19, temperatures in much of England were between 88° and 92° F.

It was, by far, the best day of the year. Full sunshine made it a perfect opportunity for me to soak up some rays whilst doing the gardening.

Just a few days ago, I was wearing a cashmere sweater, a daily item of clothing this year. Despite warnings about global warming, this has been one of Britain’s coolest summers in more than a quarter of a century.

Nonetheless, the country went into hysterics over one day of hot weather. There was even a melée in Hyde Park, possibly exacerbated by the heat.

I am aghast at the number of articles in the media saying the UK is experiencing one of the hottest summers ever. I’m bundled up most of the time. We had the heat on during the first week of June. If the mercury reaches 70°F, it’s a blessing. It’s usually cool, cloudy and breezy. Piers Corbyn’s WeatherAction readers agree on June — and July. Corbyn, incidentally, predicted a cool summer.

Enough hysteria. It’s summer. It should be hot now and then. Even in England.

Readers of mine and admirers of Lleweton will enjoy this guest post from him about Fleet Street, which, until the 1990s, had been Britain’s journalistic home for nearly 300 years.

Llew has written guest posts before about Fleet Street and newspaper work:

Fleet Street, a lost Bohemia

Fleet Street’s cut and paste diplomacy

Llew’s post today concerns in part the controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech by the well-known Conservative MP Enoch Powell. Powell was an erudite man and devoted MP. He was steeped in the Classics, having learned Greek and Latin in his childhood. He became a full professor of Greek at the age of 25. He also served his country during the Second World War, attaining the rank of brigadier. As he achieved so much during his lifetime, suffice it to say that Powell was a polymath.

Enoch Powell 6 Allan Warren.jpgPowell (pictured at left) hoped that, when he gave his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968, it would open up an honest nationwide discussion about immigration and integration, both of which concerned his Wolverhampton South West constituents in the Midlands. Like them, he believed that rapid immigration was harming integration into English society.

The title alludes to a line from Virgil’s Aeneid. Powell wrote:

As I look ahead, I am filled with foreboding; like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’

It has been said that Powell used that line only as an expression of foreboding, not as a prediction of conflict.

He sent out advance copies of the speech so that it would not be ignored. Certain Conservative MPs, including future Prime Ministers Ted Heath (party chairman at the time) and Margaret Thatcher, criticised Powell’s speech. Whilst the British public thought Powell had said nothing untoward, the elites were damning.

Powell gave the speech just three days before the second reading of the Race Relations Bill in the House of Commons. Heath had sacked Powell from his shadow Cabinet position two days before the reading.

The speech is still controversial today as is Powell himself. Both are taboo subjects.

Powell left the Conservative Party for the Ulster Unionist Party and served as an MP for South Down from 1974 to 1987. He died in London in February 1998.

Someone who knew Powell wrote a long article about him for The Telegraph in November 1998. The author seems to have been a politician, but the archive post has no byline. In any event, this person wrote:

As I have noted, Enoch was no racist, but he was a nationalist in the best sense of the term – that is, a British patriot who also acknowledged and respected other nationhoods. This was surely why he understood so clearly and so early the European Common Market’s true nature and purpose. Like me, he had originally favoured EEC membership because of the benefits of opening up European markets to British trade. But in the late 1960s he changed his mind and started to emphasise the incompatibility between the root assumptions of the Treaty of Rome and British legal and national sovereignty.

Now onto Llew’s guest post, which touches on Powell’s speech and, briefly, the EU Referendum. It also includes an overview of classic journalism. Enjoy!

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The perils of copytasting

So much of the current political/moral climate brings back memories.

I don’t think I need to stress that I deplore racial hatred and discrimination. But one thing that I think links 1968 and now is that the working class world, under a Labour Government then, felt that its worries were not recognised or taken seriously and were even despised. We have seen that same sentiment recently in reaction to Brexit.

Because many Britons did not think the Labour Government was interested in their concerns, the Tories won the 1970 General Election. I remember winning a pint from a very left-wing Revise Sub-Editor for predicting that result. (Ironically, we got Ted Heath who took us into the EU!)

In April 1968 I was working as a Night Sub Editor at the Press Association (PA), similar to America’s Associated Press (AP), when Enoch Powell sent in an embargoed copy of his controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. That was during the Easter Recess that year. Easter fell on April 14.  Powell gave the speech on April 20.

The question that evening involved how much of the speech to print in the morning edition. Was it a minor story or a major one?

Determining what news runs in newspapers involves a process called copytasting. Editors and sub-editors – subs — decide what stories get covered and at what length.

I’ve done plenty of copytasting in my time. It’s always a gamble. I remember once we spiked a Ministry of Defence story about a new warship.  It was a rehash of an old announcement.  The MoD press officer, a former colleague, confirmed that. Then the Daily Telegraph led with the story the next day and we caught a rocket for not using it.

In my day the pecking order in a subs’ room at a daily newspaper or agency such as the PA, Daily Telegraph and the Leicester Mercury was:

Day or Night Editor

Deputy  “  “  “ (sometimes)

Chief Sub Editor

Copytaster

Those were Top Table positions. Also involved often would be a senior sub-editor known as the Splash Sub. Then there were the Down Table subs.

This is how the process worked.

The original copy first went from the reporter to the copytaster, who decided whether to use it, how much and marked it up.

He handed the copy to the Chief Sub who sometimes made more assessments.

Then the copy went to a Down Table Sub who followed the instructions, looked out for pitfalls, cuts, checks, etc. In my day this often involved complete rewrites.

The Down Table then passed his work to the Revise Sub–Editor, a Top Table sub, who checked through and could make more amendments before handing the copy to the printers.

When computers came in this was still the process, but it was done on the machine.

It may all be very different now.

With regard to the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, I did not witness the exchange but was told that evening that the then Night Editor had looked at it and told the Night Chief sub to cut it to 300 words. I presume because of the nature of the Powell piece the Chief Sub involved the Night Editor from the start. The Chief Sub, a tough Glaswegian veteran of the Scottish Daily Express, insisted: ‘We’re using it in full.’ He won that argument.

It was the Night Editor who wanted to use 300 words and the Night Chief Sub who said every word should be used.  The default position of all subs in those days was to try to keep things as short as possible, within the confines of fairness.

I think, essentially the Night Editor, for whatever reason, didn’t pick up the seriousness of the Powell speech. It didn’t miss the awareness of the old sweat from the Scottish Daily Express. Real judgement. There were reports among my colleagues that evening that they had quite a row about it.

The subs had an ironic joke about their seniors on the Top Table or the ‘back bench’ paraphrasing their instructions as ‘Cut it to the bone and let the good stuff run’. The virtue of the system was – and I hope still is – that we reported events without slant, political or any other. In those days we also did frequent updates and summaries of running stories – and no computer copy and paste function. We were also, broadly speaking, an agency of record: Law Courts, criminal cases, both Chambers of Parliament, all sports, including horse racing, etc. etc. Output was enormous.

The PA, like the AP, Reuters and the AFP, served outlets all over the country and, via the foreign agencies, the world – from regional newspapers like the Falmouth Packet and the Southport Visiter (sic) to the national UK and Irish newspapers as well as the broadcasters – all via teleprinter and, in some cases, ‘train parcels’. Yes, really.

I often attended the early morning Holy Communion at St Bride’s when not working at Westminster. The vicar was the much admired Canon John Oates, who arrived in 1984. He helped to smooth the waters at a time when Fleet Street was undergoing dramatic change.

No. 85 Fleet Street was the HQ of PA and Reuters then. Metro International, publishers of the free newspaper Metro, are there now. Reuters moved to Canary Wharf along with some of the national newspapers, the Murdoch titles and the Telegraph. The PA stayed in central London, relocating to Vauxhall Bridge Road, not far from Victoria Station.

I started in local newspapers before that time. I think that is where my heart is still. To sell papers we needed to report what went on in the town or county. People loved reading about their community. I’ve many good memories of calling on vicars and pub landlords and eating cheese ‘cobs’ with parish councillors in their local pubs and Women’s Institute (WI) ladies, gathering their news and editing the reports they sent in on my own WI page.

The job involved day and evening coverage. If there was something to report, we went to it. And reported it. Yes, there was a romance about the job. Reporters are not funded, or allowed, to do that now.  I know that from my battles with the local press as a former volunteer press officer for a charity here. Not that I recall being paid overtime for my trips out of office hours. Four shillings for a lunch – around £5 today — with a contact was the max. It was not a lot.

Free newspapers, based on ad income, have been the ruin of truly local newspapers. It’s a great loss to community cohesion that this sort of coverage doesn’t happen anymore. Online local news does help keep the parish pump flowing but, to me, it’s not the same because it is only seen by initiates.

Times change. Newspapers change. Fleet Street, in journalistic terms, is a shadow of its former self. Only D.C. Thomson & Co., Metro International and the AP are there now. Modern computerised printing plants were built to the east of London in Wapping, hence the transfer of newspapers to Canary Wharf. The widespread use of the Internet has seen newspaper circulation decline. Most people receive their news online for free.

Looking back, I am pleased to have been part of local journalism and Fleet Street in their heyday. Despite the hectic pace – often there were days when stories and names blurred past because of the breakneck speed — those are memories to be treasured.

On July 6, 2016, I wrote about the high church Anglican quiz ‘How “spikey” are YOU?’

One of my readers, Boetie, a Catholic living in Germany, sent in a thoughtful comment by way of response. He has kindly given me permission to use it as a guest post on the differences between Catholic and Anglican worship.

What he says closely parallels my own experience in the early 1980s and caused me to convert to the Episcopal Church and continue worshipping in the UK as an Anglican. I should emphasise that my conversion came through low church, which also had quite a lot of ritual, rather than high church. That said, I have occasionally enjoyed the freedom and the opportunity to revisit ancient traditions and vestments.

Without further ado, Boetie discusses his results and his own worship journey:

I came out “top of the flame” – not that I was in the least surprised, though. But this liturgical and at the same time humorous approach is what first attracted me to the Anglican Church in her High Church / Anglo-Catholic tradition ever since I was an 11 or 12 year old lad from Germany coming to Britain for the first time in the very early 1970s. Quite visibly the Anglican Church had not been through the devastations Vatican II had brought about in my own church (I’m a “Roman”:-)). Sadly, the Anglican Church has more than made up leeway since.

But for the first time in my life I saw priests who looked like priests with their dog collars and their cassocks/soutanes, who spoke like priests and who acted like priests. Our own RC priests at the time had opted for the “social worker” chic, loathed to be addressed as “Father” and were delighted when you told them: “I would never have guessed you were a priest”.

And, of course, in England I gained an insight into what “liturgy” meant – while in Germany they had already come up with that brilliant idea of happy-clappy services with do-gooder homilies. I had never heard e.g. an “Angelus” prayer in my home parish – the first in my life was in an Anglican church in Hertfordshire.

So, for many years in my youth, the Anglican Church shaped my own Catholic faith.

I noticed differences though, even at an early age.

Right from day one I was impressed by the style of hearty hymn singing – as opposed to many RC churches where people often can’t be bothered and where the singing is lacklustre. Also, I found traditional Anglican services solemn but ultimately more serene than traditional RC Masses. And the difference of the quality of style and language was stunning: introducing the vernacular after Vatican II into RC services didn’t work well: e.g. in Germany it was modern day German while in the Anglican Church the wonderful traditional English had been retained. (Doing away with Prayer Book English I regard as a a major flaw in today’s Anglican worship.) Not least of all, to this day I appreciate the humour that is never far from the surface with High Church priests – which makes it a pleasure to listen to their sermons and homilies.

The demise of the Anglican Church (namely the CofE) I find deeply saddening and I wonder whether the Catholic faith in her Anglican tradition will have a future within the Anglican Communion or whether in the long run it will be just “catholic” in name and maybe ritual but no longer in essence – with lesbians and feminists in fiddleback chasubles and birettas swinging the thurible – during a same sex marriage.

But I do not want to end on a sombre note. If you appreciate the type of humour of the quiz I am sure you will also like the cartoon figure of “Father Jolly” created years ago by the American Anglican priest Fr. Tom Janikowski during his formative years in the seminary. He is now Rector of Trinity Anglican Church in Rock Island, Illinois (an ACNA parish). Unfortunately there are only few of his cartoons on the net: the first 4 pictures here:

https://www.google.de/search?q=father+jolly&client=firefox-b-ab&biw=1370&bih=938&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiK2-ie_uDNAhVCbRQKHReiBVEQ_AUIBigB

Here is another one: http://www.thescp.org/documents/jollylovejoy.jpg

Should you come across more in the vein of that quiz – please let us know in your blog. I am sure I’d be not the only one to appreciate this.

You can bet I will, brother!

Thank you very much, Boetie, for your excellent contribution and for the witty (and realistic) Father Jolly cartoons.

It would be edifying if others sharing the same experience as Boetie’s and mine would kindly comment below.

‘How “spikey” are YOU?’ is a short quiz that tests one’s affinity with ritual and ceremony in church.

It will no doubt baffle anyone who is not Anglican, Episcopalian or Catholic.

‘Spikey’ refers to the tall altar candles used in traditionalist churches. The higher one is on the candle in terms of results, the spikier — more high church — one is.

Thanks to my all-too-brief but nonetheless impressive pre-Vatican II upbringing, my result is:

Top of the flame

Congratulations!! After passing this rigorous test you are indeed ‘Top of the flame’ .. .a true all singing, all dancing ‘bells and smells’ Anglo-Catholic! Our videos of Solemn High Mass will have you romping in the Elysian Fields and should you be passing our door.. call in and be assured of a warm welcome! And remember our maxim ‘the only thing that hinders too much ceremonial is the lack of equipment!’

How true!

The quiz asks that you enter a name. I merely typed in a random jumble of letters, which was accepted.

You can even save your results to share with others. Therefore, I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!

The quiz comes from the altar servers at Beauchamp (pron. ‘Beecham’) Chapel at the Anglican Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick.

The church’s Norman foundations date back to 1123 and were commissioned by the 2nd Earl of Warwick, Roger de Beaumont.

In the 14th century, a subsequent Earl of Warwick, Thomas de Beauchamp, had the chancel vestries and chapter house extensively rebuilt. His descendants built the Chapel of Our Lady, also known as the Beauchamp Chapel.

If you are in or near Warwick, it would no doubt be worthwhile attending one of the Sunday services. Otherwise, you can tour the church and go up into the Tower. It looks beautiful.

Also highly recommended is Warwick Castle, erstwhile home of the Earls of Warwick. It’s a beautiful place and will take the better part of a day to visit.

July 5 is a red-letter day with regard to inventions and initiatives from the 1940s.

Could all that nicotine have helped move the West along in new and inventive ways in the postwar period? A case could surely be made.

NHS

Britain‘s National Health Service was born on July 5, 1948:

When health secretary Aneurin Bevan … launched the NHS at Park Hospital in Manchester (today known as Trafford General Hospital), it is the climax of a hugely ambitious plan to bring good healthcare to all. For the first time, hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists are brought together under one umbrella organisation to provide services that are free for all at the point of delivery.

The central principles are clear: the health service will be available to all and financed entirely from taxation, which means that people pay into it according to their means.  

The NHS isn’t perfect but it is still the best universal health care system in the world, bar none.

The bikini

July 5 is also the birthday of the bikini. The year was 1946.

Men love it, women feel insecure in it and the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, banned posters of it on the Underground as one of his first mayoral acts.

A century ago, swimming costumes were wool chemises (long shirts) or long tunics and bloomers.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the style became one of a sleeveless top with shorts or bloomers. Sometimes this was a one-piece.

In 1946 two French swimsuit designers made fashion headlines.

Jacques Heim designed the first two-piece with a bare midriff. Heim called it l’atome — after the smallest known particle of matter — and advertised it as the world’s ‘smallest bathing suit’. It was a bra-type top with a pair of frilly briefs.

However, Heim’s swimsuit was eclipsed by Louis Réard’s bikini, named after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. On July 1, 1946:

the United States had initiated its first peace-time nuclear weapons test as part of Operation Crossroads.[9] Réard hoped his swimsuit’s revealing style would create an “explosive commercial and cultural reaction” similar to the explosion at Bikini Atoll.[10][11][12][13]

Of course, women wore skimpy two-piece outfits in the days of the Roman Empire.

However, the advent of Christianity put paid to revealing or form-fitting clothes for women for centuries. Even in the 19th century, women taking a bath in private often wore a lightweight cotton or linen chemise to preserve their modesty. Occasionally, historical dramas show such scenes. But I digress.

More revealing two-piece swimsuits rode the crest of a wave as suntans became more popular. Coco Chanel was the first to enjoy catching the sun in the 1920s on cruises in the South of France and popularised the practice. Prior to that, no self-respecting woman allowed her skin to darken. That was something field workers did by dint of their work. Hence the popularity of broad-brimmed ladies’ hats and parasols.

By the time Heim and Réard’s designs came along, suntans were the in thing. Women wanted more sun, not less. One-piece suits were much briefer and the skimpy two-pieces were a logical progression.

Réard’s bikini was so controversial that no model would wear it for photo shoots or public appearances. He finally hired a burlesque dancer, Micheline Bernardini, who happily wore it.

The bikini was so popular that, by the early 1950s, mayors of European coastal resorts attempted to ban its presence on beaches and the Vatican condemned it as being ‘sinful’ after Miss World used it in their 1951 competition. The pageant committee quickly replaced the garment with evening gowns beginning in 1952.

The more outrage, the greater the popularity. The rest is history.

It is interesting that Heim was a haute couture designer by profession and that Réard was an automobile engineer!

Jacques Heim

Heim (1899-1967) was the son of Polish Jews who had fled to France. Born in Paris, Heim worked in the family fur firm. He took the business over in 1923 and switched to designing clothes. During the Second World War, he managed to escape capture by giving the front of house role in his shop to a Gentile.

Behind the scenes, Heim was active in the Resistance. When Charles de Gaulle assumed the presidency, he appointed Heim as Mme de Gaulle’s couturier. Heim’s other famous clients included Mamie Eisenhower, Sophia Loren and Queen Fabiola of Belgium.

Interestingly, in 1956, he designed a bikini for Brigitte Bardot, pictures of which created a sensation around the world. So, she was wearing a Heim design, not a Léard.

After Heim’s death, his son took over the firm and sold it two years later, in 1969, to the bridal firm Pronuptia.

Louis Réard

Réard (1897-1984) was born in France.

His mother had a lingerie firm in Paris. Although he was a mechanical engineer by training, he took over her business in 1940. On holiday in St Tropez, he noticed women rolling up the legs of their swimsuits to get a better tan.

After Heim came out with l’atome, Réard decided to make his design much briefer and more aesthetically pleasing. In July 1946, the aforementioned Micheline Bernardini modelled the bikini at the Molitor swimming pool in Paris. Bernardini received 50,000 fan letters from men all over the world. She moved to Australia to pursue her career. There she married an American serviceman and moved with him to the United States. She worked as an actress until 1970 and is alive today.

Réard then managed to combine bikini and automobile design.

He opened a bikini shop in Paris and sold his designs there for 40 years. His sales pitch was that his designs could be pulled through a wedding ring.

In the early 1950s, he commissioned car specialist Chapron to build a ‘road yacht’ by converting a Packard V8 into a yacht-type vehicle. The vehicle was not amphibious, however, for a few years it was part of the Tour de France and various parades in France. Not surprisingly, bikini-clad girls adorned it.

In 1980, Réard retired. He and his wife moved to Lausanne, Switzerland, along Lake Geneva. He died four years later at the age of 87.

Cluedo

Image result for cluedo gameDid you know that Cluedo was invented to help pass the time in bomb shelters during the Second World War?

Cluedo is a hybrid of ‘clue’ and ludo, which is Latin for ‘I play’.

Anthony E Pratt (1903-1994) came up with the idea for the board game in 1944. He was a munitions worker in Birmingham and devised the game, which he called Murder!, with the help of his wife Elva.

After the war, in 1947, the Pratts sold the game and its patent to Waddingtons. Because of postwar shortages the game — which the company renamed Cluedo — did not go into production until 1949. Waddingtons licensed the game that year to Parker Brothers in the United States. The American version is Clue.

Although Pratt’s objective was to distract those in bomb shelters from the horrors outside, Cluedo became famous as a way for children to learn to think and reason whilst having fun.

Cluedo is not entirely Pratt’s original game. Waddingtons made changes to it upon purchase, and Parker Brothers further adapted it for North Americans.

The latest news on Cluedo, published on July 5, 2016, is that housekeeper Mrs White — whom Pratt had designed as Nurse White — will vanish in favour of Dr Orchid, a PhD well versed in plant toxicology. She is Dr Black’s adopted daughter.

Please note that I played Clue only once in my lifetime. I lost miserably. It was obvious that my schoolmates played it much more frequently, which is necessary in order to grasp the strategy. Feel free to comment on the game, however, be aware that I cannot respond for that reason.

Anthony Pratt

Anthony Pratt had longed to become a chemist in his youth. Unfortunately, he had problems with his eyesight which curtailed his education.

He was also a gifted pianist.

During the Great War, he was apprenticed to a chemical manufacturer in Birmingham. His lack of formal qualifications in chemistry found him resorting to a career as a musician. He gave piano recitals in country hotels and on cruise ships.

During the Second World War, Pratt worked in a Birmingham plant that manufactured components for tanks. As the work was routine, Pratt had time to formulate Murder! He was also keen on mysteries by Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie which helped him hone the concept and the characters. No doubt he chose the country hotel setting from his days as a pianist. Elva, incidentally, designed the game board.

In 1947, Pratt met Norman Watson, the managing director of Waddingtons, through a mutual friend, Geoffrey Bull, who had designed Buccaneer. By that time Pratt was working as a civil servant for the Ministry of Labour.

In 1953, Waddingtons offered Pratt a cheque for £5,000 — £105,800 in today’s money — for the overseas rights to Cluedo. As the Pratts had a baby daughter, they happily accepted the offer.

The family moved to Warwickshire where Anthony and Elva opened a tobacconist. When Elva’s health began deteriorating, the couple moved to Bournemouth on the south coast. There they began letting holiday flats. Pratt later worked as a solicitor’s clerk and retired in 1962.

By 1980, the Cluedo patent had lapsed and the Pratts returned to Birmingham. Anthony continued his love of music and mysteries. Elva died in 1990 and Anthony died of Alzheimer’s in 1994. Both are buried in Bromsgrove cemetery in Worcestershire.

File:British plan Somme 1 July 1916.pngFriday, July 1, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

This historic battle lasted 141 days. A daily service of remembrance will be held at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing in northern France at noon through to November 18. British readers who are interested in attending may register via the Royal British Legion site. Thiepval is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world.

Access to Thiepval will be restricted until July 9 for special ceremonies. On July 1, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles and Prince Harry will attend a commemorative service. The service will tell the story of the battle and will include special readings, hymns and music.

Nearby towns will also hold remembrance ceremonies as will cities and towns in the United Kingdom and Canada. Germans will commemorate the centenary at their cemetery in Fricourt.

The Battle of the Somme began at 7:30 a.m. July 1, 1916 is still regarded as the worst day in British military history. On that day alone, 57,470 men were killed or injured; 19,240 died. By the time the battle ended on November 18, more than one million men — British, French and German — had been wounded or killed.

30a Sammlung Eybl Großbritannien. Alfred Leete (1882–1933) Britons (Kitchener) wants you (Briten Kitchener braucht Euch). 1914 (Nachdruck), 74 x 50 cm. (Slg.Nr. 552).jpgAmong the British soldiers were the Pals battalions, comprised of friends, relatives and workmates who were allowed to fight together. They had enlisted on the appeal of the recruitment posters featuring Lord Kitchener.

Private Sidney Lewis was one of those young men. In fact, he was only a boy — aged 12 — when he signed up in 1915. He was tall and stocky for his age. He was sent to the Somme and fought for six weeks. His mother discovered where he had gone, sent his birth certificate to the War Office and demanded his return. Sidney Lewis was sent home in August 1916, a year after he had enlisted.

The oldest soldier was Lt Henry Webber who died on the battlefield on July 27, aged 67!

Captain Wilfred Percy Nevill, known as Billie, decided that a football would calm his troops’ nerves. When the artillery bombardment lifted on July 1, he and another officer kicked the balls into ‘no man’s land’ and followed them. A Royal British Legion leaflet from May 2016 explains:

As the Advance approached the German barbed wire, the troops hesitated and Nevill dashed forward to kick the ball on. He was killed instantly.

No man’s land was the area between a system of trenches and dugouts protected by barbed wire on the British and German sides of the Western Front.

Conditions were extremely harsh. Each infantryman carried an average of 30 kg of equipment during the first phase of the battle. The weather was cold, the trenches wet. Troops had to live among disease-carrying rats. An average of 893 men died every day from July 1 to November 18.

Incidentally, the first British tank — the Mark I — made its debut on September 15 at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.

Filming also took place during the Battle of the Somme. A feature-length documentary of soldiers in action — The Battle of the Somme — was quickly put together and premiered in cinemas on August 21, 1916. Six weeks later, 20 million Britons had seen it.

This is footage taken on July 1:

Another outcome of the battle, possibly because of the documentary, was a narrative against the officer class. A Royal British Legion paper on the battle says that the film by Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell showed no officers, only soldiers (p. 11 of the PDF). Yet, officers were close to their men — more so than today — and often led the charge.

Over the course of the battle, the British took a strip of territory from the Germans that was 20 miles long and five miles deep.

The onset of winter with its wet, unforgiving weather finally put an end to combat. Troops on both sides had been poorly prepared and inadequately equipped.

The horrifying death toll brought the reality of war home for Britain.

The emblematic battle for the French is Verdun. For Australians and New Zealanders it is Gallipoli.

For the British it is the Battle of the Somme.

We will remember.

The Guardian had a classic piece criticising the street parties held at the weekend in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Journalist Dawn Foster clearly had a bee in her bonnet. Excerpts follow:

Friends of mine who live in areas where street parties are in the works have, without exception, reported that the people responsible are the perennially furious residents who spend most of their lives in a rage about parking. Shifting their attention from the contentious temporary ownership of asphalt, they have decided the neighbourhood needs to commemorate the birthday of a 90-year-old woman none of the residents have met …

The twee side of nationalism harks back to a bygone era of a “stiff upper lip”, and is intrinsically bound up with the legacy of boarding schools. Its practitioners have a tendency to suggest people have been too harsh when criticising our colonial history. Several years ago they would have been laughed out of the building, but now this brand of chummy nationalism is widespread …

The coming weekend will feature an assault course of men in red trousers telling you how “jolly good” it is that “our Liz” has reached the age people in her income bracket often do, as they wave paper Union Jacks …

It’s possible to be a good neighbour without indulging in these performative pastiches of community. Speaking to people on your street should be an everyday occurrence, not prompted only by an unreciprocated love for the unelected Queen …

Readers’ comments were mixed. I rather liked this one:

The article neglects the fact that the Queen has been in power for over 60 years, through periods of austerity as well as more lavish times. In none of those, though, did she really have any authority to do more than suggest a more temperate approach (should she have decided to do so). She also presided over periods when the middle class was in the ascendant and when it was losing ground. It is a bit of a ‘straw man’ argument to try to blame her for all the failed policies of the various governments that were in power during that period.

If we accept that the role of the Queen is essentially that of a figurehead (and perhaps a role model), rather than an actual person with authority, we must conclude that she’s done a pretty good job. Governments come and go and society changes, but through good times and bad, Her Majesty has always been around.

Indeed, and that is what and who Britons celebrated last weekend.

In the early 21st the worldwide migration situation has produced Church-related anomalies in Europe, including the UK.

One of these has been the marriage of convenience, as a Workpermit.com post from 2006 describes. In 2005, a set of rules was introduced in the UK to put an end to this practice designed:

to get around immigration controls and require immigrants to obtain a special certificate of approval, or COA before they can wed in the UK.

However, Mr Justice Silber overturned these laws in 2006 because they violated the European Convention on Human Rights. Consequently:

The overturning of the marriage laws due to unfair discrimination against immigrants on religious grounds leaves the door open for hundreds of people from overseas getting married in the UK.

The test case involved in overturning by Mr Justice Silber, involved a foreign national from Algeria and an EEA national who was legally living in the UK. Once Mahmaud Baiai and Izabella Trzanska from Poland were refused permission to marry, they launched the challenge.

Mr Justice Silber said the case raised issues under Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to marry and found a family.

“The rules were incompatible because they discriminated against immigrants rights subject to immigration control on grounds of religion and nationality,” he declared.

Oddly, the rules overturned did not apply to Church of England members:

even if they are illegally in the UK.

This meant that the Anglican Church could conduct marriages of convenience. By 2008, as The Telegraph reported (emphases mine):

the number of bogus weddings performed by Anglican priests has risen by as much as 400 per cent in some dioceses over the last four years.

Foreign nationals have turned to the Church because it is exempt from rules that require all foreign nationals from outside the European Union to obtain a Home Office certificate of approval to marry in a register office.

That year, Church of England bishops warned their clergy to be vigilant when evaluating immigrants wishing to marry in an Anglican ceremony:

the Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, urged priests to be wary of migrants looking to get married who have obtained a common licence – a preliminary for church weddings involving foreign nationls.

“The new regime does not apply to marriages by banns, common licence or special licence, which probably explains the substantial increase in demand for bishops’ common licenses,” he writes.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that there is significant abuse of the availability of Church of England marriage in order to try to gain some immigration advantage.

The Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, has also written to churches in his diocese with guidance on how to tighten measures.

The diocese of Southwark, which covers Greater London south of the Thames, has seen the number of applications for common licences rise from 90 in 2004 to 493 last year.

In 2013 the Coalition government (Conservative/Liberal Democrat) produced new rules to end marriages of convenience. From page 4 of the PDF:

Notices of marriage following civil preliminaries or civil partnership in England and Wales involving a non-EEA national who could benefit from it in immigration terms will be referred to the Home Office for a decision as to whether to investigate whether the marriage or civil partnership is a sham. Non-EEA nationals will only be able to marry in the Church of England or the Church in Wales following civil preliminaries, except in limited circumstances.

Perhaps something similar should be done in the case of conversions by refugees to Christianity.

On June 5, The Guardian reported that the Catholic bishops in Austria are suspicious of the number of sudden converts to Christianity among refugees from war-torn countries. The paper reported in 2014 that the same phenomenon is going on in the Lutheran Church in Germany.

Clergy with a rosy view of the world will say that this is a tremendous opportunity to revive the Church in Europe.

The Austrian bishops view the situation differently. In 2015:

the Austrian bishops’ conference published new guidelines for priests, warning that some refugees may seek baptism in the hope of improving their chances of obtaining asylum.

Admitting persons for baptism who are during the official procedure classified as ‘not credible’ leads to a loss in the church’s credibility across the whole of Austria,” the new guidelines say.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Vienna explained:

There has to be a noticeable interest in the faith that extends beyond merely the wish to obtain a piece of paper.

Austrian priests now informally evaluate potential refugee converts during their one-year ‘preparation period’. The Archdiocese of Vienna has recorded that 5% to 10% of potential converts drop out of the process prior to baptism.

In England, however, Anglican clergy are eager to not only ask no questions but to combine the conversion process with helping to ease the refugee application process.

The Guardian interviewed the Revd Mohammad Eghtedarian, an Iranian refugee and convert who was later ordained. He is a curate at Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral. Eghtedarian says that refugee status and religious affiliation are intertwined.

Liverpool Cathedral has a process which involves registering refugee attendance, which helps their asylum applications. A candidate for Baptism must attend the five preparatory classes. A baptised refugee seeking Confirmation must attend a dozen courses.

Hmm. It sounds very minimal.

The Guardian asked Eghtedarian about the sincerity of those candidates. Even he acknowledged that ‘plenty of people’ were converting for convenience!

In large part, only a cursory examination exists. The Cathedral will also provide a ‘letter of attendance’ to immigration authorities, if requested.

The article said that the Church of England does not record conversions, regardless of background, because it could be a ‘sensitive’ issue.

It seems the Austrian Catholic bishops have approached the conversions of convenience issue more sensibly than the German Lutherans, who resent that immigration court judges ask refugees to discuss their newly-found beliefs in detail in order to assess their sincerity.

It is the responsibility of clergy to do a thorough examination of heart and mind during the conversion process rather than let false converts through the doors for Baptism and Confirmation.

Church of England clergy should pray for divine guidance on the matter rather than deceive fellow Christians, other citizens of our country and our government.

Admittedly, some of these converts are sincere. However, if ‘plenty of people’ are not, then the whole thing is a sham.

If marriages of convenience rightly rang Anglican bishops’ alarm bells, then conversions of convenience should, too.

Sadiq Khan.jpgOn Thursday, May 5, 2016, England, Wales and Scotland held local elections.

(Photo credits: Wikipedia)

New London mayor

London now has a Labour mayor who is also a Muslim, Sadiq Khan. As French radio station RMC put it in their newscasts that day (translated):

London, Europe’s most cosmopolitan city, is on course to elect its first Muslim mayor.

The next day, one of RMC’s talk shows took a listener’s poll asking if they could envisage French voters doing the same. One woman rang in to complain that the question was ‘racist’. In any event, 78% voted ‘yes’ and 22% ‘no’.

Khan, the son of a bus driver and born in Tooting (South London), won largely on the housing issue. London property is frightfully expensive and many people are forced out of the market, either as buyers or renters. Although I did not follow the campaign closely, when I did pick up a copy of the London Evening Standard, the Khan soundbites of the day were about affordable and available housing. And ‘son of a bus driver’ was in every article.

It is unlikely that anything will change in a significant way immediately, however, over time, who knows? It is possible that we will see a certain amount of vocal social polarisation popping up in the coming weeks with a mayor whom a significant percentage of London’s population sees as one of their own.

Zac Goldsmith MP at 'A New Conversation with the Centre-Right about Climate Change'.jpgKhan’s opponent was Zac Goldsmith, the highly popular Conservative MP for Richmond Park. Goldsmith’s sister Jemima was married for several years to the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. During that time she lived in Pakistan and still holds dual nationality with that country and the UK. One of their sons helped Goldsmith campaign in Muslim neighbourhoods. Imran Khan’s name still has a lot of pull and meeting his son went down well but, in the end, not quite well enough. Nor did questions about some of Sadiq Khan’s associations.

Jemima Goldsmith tweeted her congratulations to the new mayor and, in a separate tweet, wrote:

When Khan’s predecessor Boris Johnson won re-election as Mayor of London in 2012, pundits predicted that it was highly unlikely that another Conservative would be elected to that post in 2016. And so it happened. One reason is the natural political cycles from right to left and back again. Another is demographic; the city has many more Labour voters who are diluting what used to be the doughnut of outer boroughs which voted overwhelmingly Conservative.

Scotland

A dramatic reversal of fortune for Labour took place in Scotland. For the first time in years, the Conservatives have become the second most prominent party, knocking Labour off that spot. The SNP, representing independence, also no longer has an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament.

Incidentally, it is interesting that these three political parties are headed by women.

Wales

Incredibly, UKIP — the UK Independence Party — won seven seats in the Welsh Assembly.

One of the newly elected UKIP Assembly Members has blamed Cardiff’s increased litter on Eastern European immigrants, although he was unable to back up his assertions with any data.

Labour still hold the majority of seats (29), and Plaid Cymru (pron. ‘Plied Come-ree’) have 12, nudging the Conservatives into third with 11.

England

Despite doubts over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, their mayoral and council losses were not as dramatic as some pundits predicted.

That said, UKIP managed to win six council seats in Thurrock, Essex (east of London), sapping the Labour vote. This puts them on level pegging with the Conservatives. Each party has 17 seats. Labour have 14 seats and an Independent councillor has one.

Our next national election will be on June 23, as we vote whether to leave or remain in the European Union.

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