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What a week for interesting news going all the way back to Abraham Lincoln!
Here’s a selection of what was in the media. Emphases mine below.
Prolonged childhood problematic
Charlotte Gill, a young woman writing for The Spectator, deplores games such as Pokémon Go and Candy Crush as well as games franchises, e.g. Nintendo. These products distract too much from real life which young adults should be embracing:
… I genuinely believed that my generation would get over Pokémon – that there would be a collective ‘growing up’ – but I was wrong. Data shows that 49 percent of Pokémon Go users are 25 or over …
Such games are viewed as ‘a bit of fun’ – a nice distraction from the world. After all, who thinks about Isis when they’re searching for Pokémon? But I can see a wider issue about Generation Y and its obsessions; a huge denial about being adults. Frankly, it’s all a bit sad.
The trouble with all these baby hobbies is that they distract twentysomethings from doing something good with their lives. And, I know, we all deserve to have downtime and can even turn passions, like gaming, into a career. But for many young people, these enterprises become hugely absorbing, and steal the best years of their lives. The irony is that they will not know that this is happening; franchises with cute, sweet animals come across as harmless and nostalgic.
As a generation, we need to grow up. The world is becoming a more frightening, competitive place all the time; it has never been more important for young people to buck up, get some skills, even set up their own businesses, instead of indulging in the toys and franchises we should have left behind years ago …
The strange thing about all of these pursuits is that young people take pride in them. They think it’s funny to be trivial. It’s ironic, they say. In reality, it seems ignorant. Girlfriends complain to me about men who won’t commit in relationships; it’s no wonder, given that they live in a society that wants to immortalise childhood.
Such pastimes are bread and circuses on a small scale. We could be approaching Idiocracy sooner than we think.
London Tube: attempted murder – terrorism or state of mind?
In December 2015, Muhiddin Mire attempted to slit a man’s throat at Leytonstone Tube station in east London.
He was given a life sentence on Monday, August 1 and will have to serve a minimum of eight-and-a-half years.
Law enforcement, barristers and doctors disagreed as to whether the cause was extremism or his mental state. During the attack, he yelled:
This is for my Syrian brothers. I’m going to spill your blood.
Police said that, given some of the content on Mire’s phone, he could have been influenced by extremist propaganda. However, the court heard that he was also suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the attack. Was his state of mind exacerbated by the extremist material?
In any event, he will start his sentence at Broadmoor Hospital in Berkshire.
Over the past few weeks I have read several letters to the editor in the UK and in France from mental health workers on recent terrorist/extremist attacks. These people are asking for an investigation into any psychotropic medication that those carrying out the attacks might have taken in the weeks and months beforehand.
It is a legitimate question, one that needs further investigation, especially in light of the American lady who met with a tragic and terrible death in Russell Square the night of August 3. Although police are no longer considering terrorism as a motive:
The Met Police’s assistant commissioner for specialist operations, Mark Rowley, said the investigation was increasingly pointing to the attack being “triggered by mental health issues”.
A 19-year-old is in police custody. Originally from Somalia, he lived in Norway before moving to the UK. Police say he is a Norwegian national.
Sky’s report proves what my late mother often said about London — it is the crossroads of the world. It’s worth reading to see the variety of names and nationalities.
Saturday night scare in London’s Camden Town
On Saturday, July 30, an alert member of the public contacted the Metropolitan Police about a suspicious vehicle in Camden Town, London’s nexus for young adults and hipsters.
At 10:50 p.m. police evacuated several pubs and clubs. The Mirror was one of two (that I can see) news outlets to carry the story. Their story pointed out:
It was a major operation on one of London’s busiest high streets at its peak time.
The Met sent in one of their police robots to investigate the car. The London Evening Standard story has a photo.
Fortunately, the car presented no threat. Police allowed night spots to reopen around midnight.
Well done to the quick reaction of the member of the public and the police.
Burger chain, bogus papers and bugs
The UK has several trendy burger chains, one of which is Byron. Its founders sold the business to an investment firm, Hutton Collins, for £100m in 2013.
On July 27, news emerged that immigration officials carried out a raid on several branches. That was on July 4. A Spanish newspaper in London, El Iberico, reported the story before MSM did. Over the past week, leftists bombarded certain branches of Byron with bugs and protests.
The Home Office had contacted Byron to say officials would be going in to their premises on July 4. Byron management sent notifications out to staff that health and safety training was going to take place that morning. As such, staff attendance was mandatory. The restaurant chain refused to comment on whether the health and safety training was set up under false pretence.
The Guardian published Byron’s statement on the incident:
It said: “We can confirm that several of Byron’s London restaurants were visited by representatives of the Home Office. These visits resulted in the removal of members of staff who are suspected by the Home Office of not having the right to work in the UK, and of possessing fraudulent personal and right to work documentation that is in breach of immigration and employment regulation.”
A Home Office source told the newspaper that 35 people were arrested in connection with the raid. They had come from Brazil, Nepal, Egypt and Albania.
The Left went into overdrive online and on the ground.
On Friday, July 29, two central London branches of the chain had to close. Activists smuggled in bags of insects into the Holborn and Shaftesbury Avenue sites. The Guardian reported:
In a joint statement published on Facebook, London Black Revs and Malcolm X Movement said the direct action was in response to the chain’s “despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Border Agency”.
“Many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets [have been released] into these restaurants. We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their families from such dehumanised treatment,” the statement said.
Obviously, these people do not believe in borders. No doubt, there are any number of anarchists among them.
The activists invited Huck‘s Michael Segalov along for the occasion:
On Thursday evening my phone vibrated, a number I’d never seen before had sent me a text.
“Dear Journalist, this is a tip-off”, it read, “info: 8000 locust, 2000 crickets, 4000 cockroaches. See you tomorrow night.”
The bug barrage went as planned. Customers scarpered. Those who were there might have left in panic, without paying. The rest of the night was one of lost income and massive clean-up. The manager of one of the branches was, quite rightly, angry. Segalov wrote:
I get it, sort of. This was his place of work, which was now a shambles, it wasn’t his fault that the raids had happened (he probably didn’t even know they were planned) and now his team were going to spend the night chasing crickets and picking cockroaches out the red-onion relish.
Outside, a female passerby reminded him that staff and the manager were going to have to deal with the mess, no one else. That said, this woman and Segalov think it was still worthwhile.
Why? The people arrested had forged paperwork. They entered the country illegally.
A huge protest of no-borders lefties took place on Monday, August 1 outside the Holborn branch. The Evening Standard reported that the branch was closed after they heard 1,300 protesters might attend. Police were on the scene. The Standard reported:
Byron said in a statement: “In response to the recent Home Office investigation, we would like to reiterate the following.
“Byron was unaware that any of our workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to our attention.
“We carry out rigorous ‘right to work’ checks, but sophisticated counterfeit documentation was used in order to pass these checks.
“We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests and processes throughout the course of their investigations: it is our legal obligation to do so.
“We have also worked hard to ensure minimal impact on our customers while this operation was underway.”
Taking legitimate citizens’ jobs through forged papers is theft.
Jean-Claude Juncker’s little black book
The EU’s most disliked bureaucrat, Jean-Claude Juncker, told Belgium’s Le Soir that he has a little black book with all his enemies’ names in it.
The Guardian reported on the interview. Le Petit Maurice, as Juncker calls his notebook, serves as more of an aide-memoire than anything else. He thinks it is also a useful deterrent:
He would tell people attacking him: “Be careful. Little Maurice is waiting for you.”
On UKIP MEP Nigel Farage, Juncker:
claimed he respected the Ukip leader and found him “very funny” and erudite.
Yet, he said that he had not embraced Farage during the last European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg:
I whispered something in his ear that was not a compliment. The photos gave the impression that I embraced him.
Juncker has no plans to go anywhere. Juncker has no regard for European citizens. He wants an EU army to cope with the migration crisis, a perfect way to impose more control over us. He is upset that EU countries have not taken in more migrants and despises the reimposition of border controls in the Schengen Zone. I wrote at the end of May:
People like Jean-Claude Juncker are the reason why many Britons will vote for Brexit. Juncker and Co’s arrogance is unsurpassed.
On EU monetary policy
“I’m ready to be insulted as being insufficiently democratic, but I want to be serious … I am for secret, dark debates”
On British calls for a referendum over Lisbon Treaty
“Of course there will be transfers of sovereignty. But would I be intelligent to draw the attention of public opinion to this fact?”
Jean-Claude Juncker: another reason to be happy Brexit won.
The Khan controversy
For my readers who do not live in the United States, an attorney by the name of Khizr Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention last week in Philadelphia, flanked by his wife in traditional dress.
The Khans came to the US from Afghanistan via the United Arab Emirates, where their son, Humayun, was born. The family became American citizens once they were eligible.
Humayun became a captain in the US Army and was killed in 2004 in Iraq when he was investigating a car fitted with an explosive device. Americans can be grateful for his honourable and courageous service.
At the DNC, Khizr Khan sharply took issue with Donald Trump’s policy on restricting or temporarily banning Muslim immigration until Homeland Security figures out what is going on.
Trump politely responded in television news interviews by saying the Khans would have been vetted — current policy — and admitted, were he in the Oval Office. However, the polemic continued from Democrats and Republicans, including Khan and Trump.
On July 31, Trump tweeted:
I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!
Charles Hurt defended Trump’s position in a July 31 article for The Hill. Hillary supporters should note the following:
Stop for a moment and ask yourself how exactly the Clinton campaign arrived at the decision to trot out the Khan family in the middle of their highly-choreographed, exhaustively produced convention?
Were they just looking to give voice to the parents of a soldier? That would be a first. Did they want parents of anyone who had died abroad in the defense of their country? Gee, why not pick the parents of one of the fallen warriors who died defending the U.S. consulate in Benghazi? Oh, that’s right. They would have called Hillary Clinton a liar. Can’t have that.
No. Politicians like Hillary Clinton do not see people like Capt. Humayun Khan as a soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice on a foreign battlefield in defense of his country.
Politicians like Hillary Clinton see him only a demographic, a dispensable political pawn to be scooted around an electoral map, the way generals used to move armies across giant maps of the lands they were invading.
Here’s the kicker:
Perhaps a better testimony from Khizr Khan would have been for him to talk about how Hillary Clinton was in the U.S. Senate when she voted to invade Iraq. Years later, after that position became politically unpopular, she changed her mind and joined new political forces to vacate all the land across Iraq that so many great American patriots like Capt. Humayun Khan had died for.
It was her vote that sent Capt. Khan to his death. And then it was her decisions later to render that sacrifice worthless.
Of course, the media will run and run with this one, whilst continuing to deprecate Patricia Smith who spoke at the Republican National Convention about her son Sean who died during Benghazi. Mrs Smith is right in saying that Hillary Clinton must come out with the truth. Mrs Smith said she was not even allowed to talk to people at the State Department; they told her she was not ‘immediate family’!
Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his stepbrother
And finally, a fascinating letter from Abraham Lincoln to his stepbrother John Daniel Johnston appeared on Real Clear Life this week.
Lincoln’s stepbrother had asked him for $80 in 1850, the year the letter was written. $80 in today’s money is a sizeable $2,424.24!
Lincoln minced no words in refusing the request. He reminded Johnston this was not the first time he had given him money:
but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still you are an idler … This habit of uselessly wasting time, is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should break this habit. It is more important to them, because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle habit before they are in it easier than they can get out after they are in.
A shorter version should be printed on billboards (hoardings, for my British readers) and posters. It should be displayed on public thoroughfares and in schools. We have way too much idleness today. Idleness brings trouble. Remember when our parents and grandparents used to say, ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’?
He went on to acknowledge Johnston’s kindness to him and proposed that, if Johnson worked over the next five months, Lincoln would match the sum of his earnings dollar for dollar.
Kindle owners can find a book of Lincoln’s letters on Amazon. Maybe that has a follow-up.
That’s all the news you might have missed over the past seven days.
Have a great weekend! May it be non-newsworthy except in the best possible way.
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:
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.
Powell (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!
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
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.
Mrs May has long been associated with leopard skin kitten heel shoes which she wore several years ago at a Conservative Party conference. (Representative ones are shown at left.)
(Photo credits: mozimo.co.uk)
In fact, at the weekend, my better half and I spoke with an older local resident. This man told us, quite seriously (verbatim), ‘I do hope Mrs May wins the leadership contest. Oh, those kitten heel shoes … I do like a firm woman, one who knows what she’s about.’
My overseas readers might ask what happened to the Conservative leadership contest. This is how it all unfolded.
Andrea Leadsom’s miserable weekend
Last weekend, the other candidate running for Conservative Party leader, Andrea Leadsom, gave an interview to Rachel Sylvester of The Times.
Sylvester, incidentally, is married to the Diplomatic Editor of The Guardian, Patrick Wintour. Wintour’s sister Anna is the famous editor of the American edition of Vogue. Their late father, Charles, is best known for editing the London Evening Standard, although he also held similar senior positions at the Daily Express and The Times.
Sylvester asked Leadsom what set her apart from May. Leadsom, always interested in children, answered, in part:
… genuinely, I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake. She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who are going to have children who will directly be a part of what happens next … so I have a real stake in the next year, the next two.
The interview made The Times‘s front page. A media storm ensued. Leadsom tweeted that the quotes were ‘truly appalling’ and the exact opposite of what she actually said. Sylvester defended her interview, claiming that Leadsom was the one who brought children into it. However, renowned political blogger Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines) listened to the transcript and said that Sylvester wove motherhood into her question, something the journalist later admitted in a BBC interview. Fawkes concluded (highlights in the original):
Goes without saying that Leadsom completely denies raising the issue, calling the claim “gutter journalism”. The only way to establish whether or not Andrea Leadsom has been stitched up is to release the full recording – something The Times is refusing to do…
On Saturday, July 9, Leadsom gave a press conference from her home in Northamptonshire at which she said:
Everyone has an equal stake in the future of our country.
However, it was too late. Several Conservative MPs — men and women — criticised Leadsom’s remark on motherhood.
By Sunday, Leadsom admitted to The Telegraph‘s Alison Pearson that she felt:
under attack, under enormous pressure. It has been shattering.
By lunchtime on Monday, July 11, Leadsom announced she was dropping out of the leadership contest.
That afternoon, David Cameron made a brief announcement, saying that a new Prime Minister would be in place by Wednesday evening. He walked back to No. 10, unaware that the microphones were still on. This is what the world heard:
The Telegraph noted:
Somehow, it sounded half-mournful, half-jaunty. It was strangely touching.
It was a very human moment. It brought a smile.
Speaking of which, July 11 marked the first time the British public saw Theresa May smile (see picture at the top of the Telegraph link). Finally, we saw another side to the ‘steely’ Home Secretary who had served the nation for six years.
Cameron’s final hours
On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 12, an empty removals van arrived at 10 Downing Street:
Simply Removals will no doubt be getting a lot of new business.
This may look trivial, but it is important in the British psyche with regard to a new Prime Minister. It represents the beginning of the transfer of power from one to another. I remember in November 1990 when John Major was announced as Margaret Thatcher’s successor. My colleagues explained that nothing would happen until the removals van arrived.
On Wednesday, Cameron presided over his last PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions). It was a witty, informative and heart-warming 45 minutes, including those questions and remarks from Leader of the Opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, who wore a tie. Cameron remarked upon it in the nicest possible way to much laughter from the benches.
Conservative MPs thanked Cameron for his achievements and some mentioned particular instances in their own constituencies, particularly the sharp drop in unemployment in certain parts of England.
Even a handful of Labour MPs thanked Cameron for his service.
At the end, the Conservatives gave him a standing ovation. All the Labour MPs heartily applauded him.
Afterwards, Cameron returned to spend a few hours at No. 10 before he gave his farewell speech around 4:45 p.m. His wife Samantha and their three children stood off to the side. Cameron recalled how his youngest, Florence (in Samantha’s womb when Cameron first entered No. 10 in May 2010) once climbed into his red ministerial box when she was little and begged him to take her along on one of his trips. He said that his two older children were known to kick the red boxes, they were so frustrated with their father’s absences from home.
The children, rightly, looked nervous. They had never been in the public eye until now.
Cameron also detailed his many achievements as Prime Minister — a lengthy list. We were blessed to have had him in that post for six years.
Just before 5 p.m., the Cameron family left No. 10 for Buckingham Palace. David and Samantha were in one car and the children in another.
The Queen’s role
Even more important than the removals van was the constitutional step of the outgoing Prime Minister asking the Queen for permission to resign.
This is a formality nowadays, since the successor has already been chosen by the political party, whether Conservative or Labour. However, it was not always so. When the Queen first ascended to the throne, the BBC News panel covering the afternoon’s events said that she used to seek advice from party grandees — the most senior MPs and advisers — on whom would be best placed to become the next Prime Minister. One Royal Family reporter said that this stopped in the 1960s after the Palace had a hand in the appointment of Anthony Eden — responsible for the Suez crisis in 1956 — and Alec Douglas-Home who served for only one year.
It is unlikely that the Queen would refuse a Prime Minister’s resignation. Nonetheless, she must be asked. The outgoing Prime Minister then recommends his or her successor to her. Again, these days, it is unlikely she would refuse that person.
In fact, Theresa May and her husband were already in a car waiting outside the Houses of Parliament. The driver awaited instructions from the Palace to leave. As soon as the Cameron family was being driven away — in black cars, no longer the silver Prime Ministerial ones — the car with the Mays pulled up in the forecourt.
The Queen spent a good half hour with David Cameron. Much of that was a private conversation between the two, then the whole family had an audience with her.
The monarch spent the same amount of time with Theresa May, again most of that privately, then with her husband included for a general conversation.
The Queen already knows Theresa May somewhat because, as Home Secretary, she was part of the Privy Council which meets with her at the Palace.
The Queen would have asked her to form a government. When the Queen issues this request of an incoming, consenting Prime Minister, that person must ‘kiss hands’ with her. In May’s case, this was a shake of the hands and a deep curtsey, à la Margaret Thatcher.
It is possible that the Queen asked May questions about the future government and its direction, although we will never know. Revealing private conversations of that nature is strictly forbidden.
The BBC panel said that, when the Queen was younger, she found the advice of Prime Ministers extremely helpful. That later turned into the Queen’s advising her Prime Ministers. The relationship is that of a CEO (PM) reporting to the Chairman (the Queen).
Theresa May is the 13th Prime Minister to serve under the Queen. It is interesting that she also was granted that position on July 13.
Like her predecessors, May will be expected to meet weekly with the Queen when Parliament is in session. The early Wednesday evening time — Cameron’s — might continue. We can but see.
The Mays left Buckingham Palace shortly before 6 p.m. in the silver Prime Ministerial car. They were in place at No. 10 in time for the evening news.
Security cars and motorcycles escorted the Camerons and the Mays to and from Buckingham Palace.
The Camerons, like other former Prime Ministerial families or couples, will continue to have security detail in future.
Theresa May’s address to the nation
Theresa May no sooner got out of the car with her husband Philip when she addressed the people of Great Britain. Philip stood off to the side.
The Spectator has the full transcript, most of which follows. It sounds very centrist if not Labour-like. Excerpts follow (emphases mine):
I have just been to Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new government, and I accepted. In David Cameron, I follow in the footsteps of a great, modern Prime Minister … David Cameron has led a one nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead. Because not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. And that word unionist is very important to me.
It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it means something else that is just as important, it means we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from. That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home …
If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly. I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The Government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you …
As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.
That will be the mission of the Government I lead. And together, we will build a better Britain.
This is a very good outcome for the nation in just under three weeks from the EU Referendum result and Cameron’s resignation.
Tomorrow: more about Theresa May and her Cabinet
(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.
Khan’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:
Sad that Zac’s campaign did not reflect who I know him to be- an eco friendly, independent- minded politician with integrity.
— Jemima Goldsmith (@Jemima_Khan) May 6, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
On September 6, 2015, Channel 4 broadcast The Queen’s Big Night Out, which told us about the one evening in her life when she was most able to be a member of the public. It was a fascinating programme and beautifully narrated by actor Allan Corduner.
This post summarises the programme’s content.
(Photo credits: Wikipedia)
May 8, 1945
As soon as Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s 3 p.m. announcement that the Second World War had ended, the British public flooded into the streets to celebrate. That day, half a million people ‘poured into London’. Some travelled by train just to party in the capital.
After six years of war, one-third of a million of Britons had lost their lives. Three-quarters of a million homes had been destroyed.
Although rationing would continue for another nine years, at least they no longer had to worry about heading for bomb shelters, a frequent occurrence in London.
On VE Day, Britons heard the first radio weather forecast in years. These had been suppressed for security reasons.
Street lamps, neon signs and house lights lit that night startled many Britons who had become accustomed to total darkness. The lights-out measure was also for security purposes, to try and keep German pilots from finding their targets.
Crowds in London flooded The Mall, waiting for George VI and the Royal Family to appear on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. The King gave a radio address about the war coming to an end. He and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) appeared on the balcony to rapturous cheers.
Pubs stayed open late that night. Some ran out of beer. People, even total strangers, hugged and kissed each other. Dancing went on everywhere. It was ‘mayhem in the nicest of ways’.
Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret
On VE Day, Princess Elizabeth was 19. Princess Margaret was 14. They had spent much of the war at Windsor Castle.
Margaret Rhodes, 89, one of the Queen’s cousins and her close friend, recalled that Princess Elizabeth was privately tutored there by the headmaster of nearby Eton. Princess Margaret was envious that she was not afforded the same privilege.
Princess Elizabeth went on to serve in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) with the rank of Second Subaltern. She learned to drive and work as a mechanic.
The princesses’ night out
Margaret Rhodes, who was at Buckingham Palace that day, remembers that the princesses asked permission to leave the palace. The King was reluctant to allow his daughters to leave, however, he relented.
Sixteen members of the Royal Household accompanied the princesses, Rhodes and Jean Woodruff, who later became a lady in waiting, for a night in the streets of London. The Queen recalled in 1985 that she pulled her uniform cap over her forehead in an attempt to disguise herself until a military officer in the entourage said he was not going to accompany her unless she wore her uniform correctly. She adjusted her cap and the group left the palace.
They were able to see their parents on the balcony of the palace waving to the crowds. That was at 9 p.m.
The group managed to make their way down the Mall. By 10 p.m., they’d reached Horseguards Parade, also teeming with people expressing ‘happiness and relief’.
At 10:30, the Royal entourage reached Trafalgar Square, full of Britons kissing, huggnig and dancing.
Group Captain Peter Townsend was among those protecting the princesses. Princess Margaret was fascinated by him (their later romance was quashed), although his only intention was to ensure the safety of his Royal charges.
The entourage reached Piccadilly Circus at 11 p.m., just when the crowds were at their peak. This was the most boisterous area of central London. Knowing this, the group tried to stay on the outer edges but the force of the crowds pushed them ever closer to the centre.
Piccadilly Circus in the 1940s was not quite what it is now. Back then, prostitutes stood around the Eros statue and lit torches (flashlights) to discreetly show off their legs. Nearby newspaper vendors sold condoms. The Regent Palace Hotel (as was) charged for rooms by the hour.
The Royal party reached The 400 Club, by 11:15. It was a favourite of some in the group and was also known for its upper-class assignations. They didn’t tarry, however, and joined the conga line down Piccadilly going towards the Ritz. The future Queen was ‘just another face in the crowd, laughing and joking’.
When they reached the Ritz at 11:30, the Royal entourage continued to conga as they entered the hotel. Margaret Rhodes remembered it as a poke in the eye to the hotel’s clientèle, ‘so stuffy’. Their shock didn’t last long, however, as the princesses had to be back at Buckingham Palace by midnight.
They had a shock of their own at Green Park, however. It was 11:45 p.m., and couples were engaging in public displays of affection and sexual congress everywhere. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret had never seen a couple kiss much less anything more. Used condoms were scattered on the ground. Some overly excited people inexplicably burnt deck chairs.
In an interview many years later, the Queen said that she had sent a message to her parents asking them to return to the balcony at midnight, so that she and her sister could see them from street level. The crowds were still outside the palace.
VE Day was the one time the Queen could let her hair down. It was her one night of relative freedom which she still remembers fondly today. Yes, she had a few drinks and danced with the public. However, she was still mindful of her status and was wearing her ATS uniform. Ultimately, she had to behave herself.
In the weeks that followed, Labour won the general election. Their government would establish the National Health Service and state provision for the needy.
This came as no surprise to the Queen. She knew people had become accustomed to centralised government and state control during the war years.
A few years later, when Princess Margaret reached majority age, she and her friends frequented the American Bar at the Savoy. Her sister, attended by ladies in waiting, sometimes joined them, always at 8 p.m. and, even then, only for a short while. The Queen was — and continues to be — above reproach in every respect.
2016 marks The Daily Telegraph‘s 150th birthday. Its original name was The Daily Telegraph & Courier.
At the time of its launch in June 29, 1855, the telegraph had just been invented. It was the newest technological development and made a great name for a newspaper of the time.
Christopher Howse examined the paper’s letters to the editor through the centuries: 19th, 20th and 21st. His article is a must-read for history buffs.
When the paper started, London had no sewer system. This was the Telegraph‘s first cause. Thanks to the pressure the paper put on Parliament, Peter Bazalgette began working on designing the capital’s extensive and efficient network, still in place today.
The letters to the editor reflected the gravity of the crisis. Howse explains:
Michael Faraday, the scientist, had taken a steamer from London Bridge to Hungerford Bridge and published his findings: that the whole river was “a real sewer”. In the Telegraph, Mr [Francis] Francis [a celebrity of the day] retorted rather impatiently that “everyone who has been on the Thames, or seen it, or smelt it, has known the state of it for years”.
Subsequent worries of the British public were, surprisingly, similar to those of today — policing, pub hours and public transport (emphases mine):
readers began inundating the paper with questions like: “Where are the police?” (They often ask the same question today.) They demanded that pubs should stay open longer on Sundays, that an elephant called Jumbo should be saved from export to the United States, that street muggers who garrotted pedestrians by night should be dealt with severely, that omnibuses should be made roomier, that sea-bathers should emulate the ancient Greeks in unashamed nudity. All this was while Victoria was consolidating her Empire and WG Grace [cricketer] was benefiting from 100,000 shillings donated as a testimonial by readers.
I was shocked to read that muggers garrotted their victims.
Similarly surprising was the rough reputation Green Park (and St James Park) had — and would continue to have for the next century — until after the Second World War:
A man troubled by prostitutes wrote indignantly on November 17 1855 under the nom-de-plume “A Pedestrian”: “It is my business every evening to cross the Green Park, being the nearest way to Piccadilly from Westminster. I am constantly annoyed by prostitutes who frequent the paths as soon as it becomes dusk.”
Two things are notable in his letter. One is that Victorians were not at all too prim to discuss prostitution in a family newspaper. Second, poor old Mr Pedestrian’s troubles with prostitutes clearly came in for much mockery. “I have complained to the Police till I am tired of doing so, the only answer I get being: ‘Then you should go another way’.”
People often wrote using pseudonyms, especially when voicing concerns over crime:
A year later , burglary in Hampstead was the problem, and a letter appeared on November 6 under the same headline: “Where are the police?” Using the name “A Constant Reader”, in a way that letter-writers are not allowed to do in the present day, the author of the letter averred that “within the last few weeks no less than two or three burglaries have been committed in this hitherto quiet and rural district, and, as usual, no police-constable was within hail at the time”.
A case of daylight assault was described in that year by another reader, from Marylebone, known only as “WA”. A friend had taken a shortcut to Edgware Road in London via Chapel Street (“one of the lowest streets in London,” according to WA).
“When she arrived at about the middle of this street, she was seized hold of by a man in a flannel jacket. She immediately requested him to leave her alone or she should give him into the custody of a policeman. Instead of complying, the man tried, with all his force, to drag her down a court, and she cried out to some persons standing by to assist her. Instead of their doing so they seemed to admire the scene. She appealed for help, protesting that she knew nothing of the man, but without avail. This scuffling must have occupied some time, as her clothes were partly torn from her body. During the struggle she kept crying out for the police, but none was forthcoming.”
Wow. The Victorians were no different to us.
Howse takes the reader through letters on another Telegraph campaign — unfortunately unsuccessful — saving Jumbo the elephant from being taken to the United States by Barnum and Bailey. He looks at correspondence from Oscar Wilde, T S Eliot and Kingsley Amis. In the intervening decades, people wrote about swimsuits, working women, public transport and summer heat.
Of course, the majority of the letters would have been about politics, war and the economy.
However, Howse’s article paints a social portrait of Telegraph readers’ concerns, mostly forgotten in history books. It’s a revelation. It serves as proof of Ecclesiastes 1:9:
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Archibald G Brown (1844-1922) was a famous English pastor who devoted his ministry and life to the poor in London’s East End.
(Photo credit: ELT Baptist Church)
Brown was the son of a wealthy investment banker and was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps. However, his future wife Anne Bigg invited him to a service at Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. The Metropolitan Tabernacle still exists today.
Although the Metropolitan Tabernacle was a Calvinistic Baptist congregation, the night Brown attended an Anglican lay preacher Stevenson Arthur Blackwood led the service. He asked an unbelieving, somewhat wayward Brown if he was a Christian. When Brown replied in the negative, Blackwood said, ‘How sad’.
Brown was 16 at the time. Afterwards, he went to reflect on Blackwood’s words and his own sinful state. Not only was he converted that day, privately, to Christianity, he went on to train for the ministry under Spurgeon at his Pastor’s College. Brown stood out for Spurgeon. Not only was he the youngest seminarian but the most dedicated to the ministry. Hence the title ‘Spurgeon’s Successor’.
Brown’s first ministry was in Bromley, Kent. However, outside of serving at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, his other pastorates were in London’s East End. He became pastor of the Stepney Green Tabernacle in 1864, which was not well attended. However, by 1867, it was standing room only.
In 1872, he had a new tabernacle built — the East London Tabernacle, which you can see in the photo above. The new church could seat 2,500, although another 500 stood to hear Brown’s powerful preaching. Inside, the tabernacle was massive; you can see more photos of it on the ELT Baptist Church site. Unfortunately, Germans bombed the building in 1944. It took ten years before a new replacement church opened, seating one-fifth of the number of people. The church has since left Baptist alliances and is now affiliated with the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches and through it to Affinity (formerly the British Evangelical Council).
Sadly, Brown was widowed four times. However, two of his wives left him several children. Annie bore six and Brown’s third wife Edith bore him four.
In later years, Edith’s poor health required him to consider relinquishing the pastorate at the East London Tabernacle and leave the capital altogether. Before he could do so, Edith died. Mourning her loss, he felt he could not continue leading his congregation without her and embarked on an international preaching tour combining travel. He returned to London in 1897 and married his fourth wife Hannah.
His subsequent ministries included a pastorate at a Baptist church in south London and a co-pastorate with Spurgeon’s son at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in 1907. In 1908, Brown became the sole pastor, a role he continued until 1910, when his own health began to fail. He toured and ministered in South Africa and Tasmania. In March 1922, Hannah died. Brown died nine days later on April 2, 1922.
During his lifetime, Brown and his assistant pastors had an intimate knowledge of the East End and its residents. Many were poor, burning their own banisters to stay warm. Others were prostitutes and thieves. Brown opened an orphanage for girls, started a soup kitchen and founded a summer holiday home in Herne Bay, Kent, to provide relief for the people of the East End.
Brown took a dim view of the modern views and erroneous theology creeping into the Church. He agreed with Spurgeon on the errors of fellow Baptist clergy denying that the Bible was divinely inspired. He deeply disapproved of the new social gospel, calling it an invention ‘by the devil’. He also opposed musical instruments in worship and using secular activities as a means of evangelisation. Not surprisingly, many people who thought they knew better ridiculed and criticised him.
In February 1878, after returning from his travels and newly married to Hannah, Archibald G Brown preached a sermon on hell to young men. The sermon is called ‘The Spiritual Doctrine of Hell’. He gave the address at the East London Tabernacle.
On his trip to Naples in 1877, Brown was struck by the looming Mount Vesuvius on the horizon and went to visit a recently rediscovered Pompeii, much of which was still buried. In August 79 AD, the town experienced a series of earthquakes over several days before Vesuvius erupted.
Wikipedia has a geological account of what happened. However, if anything approached hell on earth, the two days following the earthquakes had to be it. This summarises what happened in Herculaneum and Pompeii (emphases mine):
On the first day of the eruption a fall of white pumice containing clastic fragments of up to 3 centimetres (1.2 in) fell for several hours. It heated the roof tiles to 120–140 °C (248–284 °F). This period would have been the last opportunity to escape. Subsequently a second column deposited a grey pumice with clastics up to 10 cm (3.9 in), temperature unsampled, but presumed to be higher, for 18 hours. These two falls were the Plinian phase. The collapse of the edges of these clouds generated the first dilute PDCs, which must have been devastating to Herculaneum, but did not enter Pompeii.
Early in the morning of the second day the grey cloud began to collapse to a greater degree. Two major surges struck and destroyed Pompeii. Herculaneum and all its population no longer existed. The emplacement temperature range of the first surge was 180–220 °C (356–428 °F), minimum temperatures; of the second, 220–260 °C (428–500 °F). The depositional temperature of the first was 140–300 °C (284–572 °F). Upstream and downstream of the flow it was 300–360 °C (572–680 °F).
The variable temperature of the first surge was due to interaction with the buildings. Any population remaining in structural refuges could not have escaped, as the city was surrounded by gases of incinerating temperatures. The lowest temperatures were in rooms under collapsed roofs. These were as low as 100 °C (212 °F), the boiling point of water. The authors suggest that elements of the bottom of the flow were decoupled from the main flow by topographic irregularities and were made cooler by the introduction of ambient turbulent air. In the second surge the irregularities were gone and the city was as hot as the surrounding environment.
During the last surge, which was very dilute, one meter more of deposits fell over the region.
Now onto Brown’s sermon on hell, which I highly recommend reading in full. Excerpts and summaries follow. Photos are courtesy of Wikipedia.
Brown began by denouncing modern theology, a warning to his audience that they should turn away from error:
Any casual reader of so-called Christian literature must know the distinctive feature of this nineteenth century. There has arisen in the midst of the church an anti-Christ which is known by the name of ‘modern thought’, at whose altars tens of thousands are bowing the knee, and offering their devotion. There is a horrid malaria abroad — a malaria breeding doubt and skepticism, and giving birth to wholesale practical infidelity. Surely the gospel of the present day might be rendered — ‘He who doubts shall be saved, and he who believes shall be counted a fool.’
The eternal covenant of God is torn up with a glib remark and a smile of contempt by some boy-censor. The threatenings of God are having all the thunder taken out of them; and now let any one venture to say that he believes in such doctrines as the sovereign grace of God, an atoning sacrifice, and a doom of unspeakable horror awaiting the man who dies unconverted — and if he is not derided, he will at least be looked upon with contemptuous pity.
Now, the fiercest onslaught has been made upon the doctrine of God’s severity against sin, and the reason why I have selected this topic this evening is that, somehow or another the evil is finding its way into all the homes of our church members …
There is also an immense amount of jargon about the ‘universal fatherhood’ of God. We are told that God is so good, so kind, so indulgent, that he cannot possibly visit a sinner’s sin with the dire doom that Scripture language declares.
He went on to discuss the letters (epistles) of Peter which mention the flood (Noah) and fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I. Now let us to our first point, namely, that our text shows that GOD’S SEVERITY ON SIN IS A SOLEMN FACT.
He mentions the verse where Peter reminds his converts that God expelled the bad angels from heaven and sent them to hell. There is no reason why He would not do the same to us:
Young men, can you not see that every argument which can be employed against the ultimate punishment of men, applies with equal force against the punishment of the sinful angels? Am I told, as we are repeatedly, that there is such a nobility about man, such a natural grandeur, that it is almost impossible to imagine that God can ever consign so glorious and intellectual a being to perdition!
Regarding the flood, from which Noah and his family were spared:
Come, Mr Modern Thinker — you who are so shocked at the idea of God ever pouring out his wrath on any — how do you account for this? Does this look like ‘universal fatherhood’? Does this look like an indulgent father who knows nothing of righteous indignation against sin? It has been computed that the population of the world at that time was as great as now, owing to the longevity of the race, and yet the waters rose until the few — the eight — who rode in that ark were the sole remnant of a world that God had made.
Come, open your ears and hear the shrieks of the drowning; hear the cries of the strong swimmer in his last agony, and account for it, if you can, on any other ground than that God is a hater of sin — that when the accursed thing reaches a climax, he pours his wrath upon it — ay, though doing so destroys a world he fashioned.
He also spoke about God’s slaying of the first-born in Egypt:
I suppose that in Egypt there were more people than there are in London tonight, and yet in every house the first born was found dead, and from end to end of Egypt’s land a great wail of grief went up. Does that look like ‘universal fatherhood’?
He also discussed the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites, followed by the swallowing up of Pharaoh and his armies:
their salvation meant the destruction of all the chivalry of Egypt.
He mentioned that some modern thinkers would downplay these examples as all coming from the Old Testament, therefore, ancient history. Furthermore, any vivid portrayals of hell come from mediaeval monks, long dead.
‘Medieval’ is it, to speak about weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? These words came not from the lips of any mortal man. They fell from the same lips that said, ‘Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Neither Paul, nor Peter, nor any of the apostles, ever uttered such words as leaped from the lips of the Man of Sorrows. Christ’s descriptions of Hell are the most fearful that we have! It is the lips of infinite love that speak of being cut asunder, and about burning with the fire that is never quenched!
II. Now, then, let us look at the next point. THIS PARTICULAR ACT OF SEVERITY MENTIONED IN OUR TEXT, IS TO BE AN EXAMPLE FOR ALL AGES.
it seemed almost impossible to believe that Vesuvius could do any harm. I was almost inclined to think of Vesuvius as modern thinkers dream of God — that surely all the old fire has burned out. Still, there was some smoke rising which showed me that, though at that time no burning lava was pouring out upon its iron-bound flanks, yet it could do it again.
He toured Herculaneum and Pompeii, which reminded him of what divine punishment and hell must be like:
You must remember that it was not covered with burning lava, as is popularly supposed — that would have destroyed the city. There flowed a torrent of boiling mud which cooled and caked, and then over that there went the burning lava; and this again became like iron, so that there was the city sealed up airtightly, and, for 1,700 years, the world forgot that there was such a place as Pompeii. But we not only saw streets covered with the marks of chariot wheels, and houses with their frescoes. There were other sights sadder far. There were the relics of the past. There I saw the marble table, still standing in the garden as it was left that afternoon; and there was a bottle with the oil still in it; and there was the half eaten loaf of bread.
Yes — but what is that lying there? It is the body of a woman with her face in her hand, seeking to avoid the cinders that were falling. And you can stand there and look upon her, still lying as she cast herself down centuries back. I walked in and out those empty houses in this city of the dead, and I thought of the text, ‘turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, he condemned them with an overthrow’. Sudden was the destruction …
The miser was caught as he was counting his hoard; the harlot was arrested in her house of shame; the prisoner was suffocated in his cell, and the sentry as he stood at the gateway.
A darkness that might be felt swathed the city. The earth rumbled; then the sea became tortured; and giant waves rolled up upon the trembling shore; and over all there were the lurid flashes from the crater of Vesuvius, while masses of blazing rock went hissing through the air, and the shrieks of the terrified people rose until death triumphed and stilled the clamor!
At that point he sensed Vesuvius speaking to him:
And the mountain muttered these words — ‘I can do it again! I can do it again!’
In his tour of Pompeii, he saw the wrath of God coming again on Judgement Day:
My brethren and sisters, go back and see what God has done. When God smites Judah it is that Israel should take warning, and he who hurled the angels from Heaven to Hell, and drowned the world, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, has power still to smite. Oh, do not rouse my God to anger. Will you count his longsuffering to be slackness? and because he still lengthens out the time of grace will you presume on it? ‘Escape for your life.’
I have finished, and, as an old preacher once said, ‘Now may God begin.’ I feel that, though we have tried to preach to you earnestly, our language has been but cold and faint. Young men, I do not suppose I shall ever see you all again. It is impossible. But as surely as you are sitting in those pews there is a day coming in which you will find every word we have uttered to be true. There is a day coming in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the earth shall melt with fervent heat, and the trumpet of the archangel shall wax louder and louder! And if you die rejecting Christ you will find yourself, in spite of all that modern thinkers say, doomed to eternal perdition. Fly, then, to Christ, I beseech you. Trust him and he will save you this evening. Rest on his atoning sacrifice, and all sin shall be forgiven you. Go now, and presume no more on God’s patience. Flee from the wrath to come! May God add his blessing, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
I can add little more other than to second this sermon wholeheartedly.
Modern clergy from Brown’s time to the present are hoodwinking us into thinking God will welcome everyone into the heavenly kingdom.
Believe Jesus’s words rather than theirs. There is a second death in hell and it will last forever.
Tomorrow’s post gives a graphic representation of hell by 17th century preacher Thomas Boston.
Yesterday’s post looked at how Islamic extremism has developed in England over the past decade.
Today’s entry continues the theme, in a less dramatic way although a more personal one with regard to women. Emphases mine below.
The ‘Sharia’ driver
The Evening Standard Theatre Awards were held in London on November 21, 2015. (The Evening Standard is London’s local newspaper.) The English actress Frances Barber, 58, attended the ceremony.
She was wearing a long-sleeved ankle-length black gown with a high neckline and a shawl; click on the link for the full photo.
Afterwards, Barber got into the Uber taxi she had booked. She made small talk with the driver, remarking that it was a cold night.
The driver told her:
Well if you weren’t so disgustingly dressed…
He also told her that women should not be out alone at night.
She got out of the car, slammed the door and sought alternative transport.
Just had a sharia Uber driver, first time in London. Shocked. Reported.
And, she ended her second tweet — which recaps what I’ve already told you here — with:
THIS IS LONDON.
Uber are looking into the matter. We do not know what, if anything, happened to the driver. Barber’s next tweet was on November 26:
Thankyou for so many messages of support.Uber have taken this seriously & am grateful.But clearly there is an issue.
Frances Barber was not the only one who had a negative experience with an Uber driver. Her Twitter feed included tweets from another lady — from the Asian Subcontinent — who wrote:
My sister was told an Asian woman should not be out in late evening. Even tho with kids.
Uber must insist that their drivers refrain from making comments of a misogynistic nature, just as they would refrain from offering opinions on social or political matters.
The problem is that these drivers have no professional driving qualifications. As Ed West pointed out in The Spectator:
… if people want a fully-trained driver who knows what he’s doing, has invested both his time and money in his career, and is licensed, then get a black cab. Uber is not a taxi service; it’s merely a mechanism to hire some random guy to drive you around for a pittance – don’t be surprised if he’s not quite possessed of a Morgan Freeman level of repartee and diligence.
There is also the mind-set that goes along with celebrities and upper-middle class people flocking to Uber instead of black cabs in the capital. Uber attracts these passengers, nearly all of whom are left-wing. There is a case of cognitive dissonance here, as West explains:
Janice Turner recently pointed out in The Times that her friends ‘wouldn’t grind an unfairly traded coffee bean, they champion the living wage and want to tax global evaders like Starbucks and yet Uber leaves such principles squished in the road’.
The Times is behind a paywall, but West’s article has a legible photo of Turner’s article which says that Uber wants to flood London with drivers. Indeed, the Daily Mail article cited above says that they already have 15,000. Turner says that Uber drivers from Manchester (North West England) are going up to London to work weekends.
West rightly notes that there seems to be a British bias against drivers of black cabs. They are satirised as opinionated blowhards. In reality, like West, I have had very few conversations with them. Most prefer not to talk.
West points out that foreign taxi drivers also have political views:
I’ve had some interesting chats – most recently there was a lovely Iranian guy who hated the religious authorities and wanted to restore the Shah, which I’m totally down with – but I’ve also spoken to people who believe the Mossad were behind 9/11. Imported prejudices are not so much a target for Radio 4 comedy, but as Europe is finding out, these days they are much more extreme and dangerous.
Other news stories
Frances Barber’s unfortunate Uber encounter took place in the aftermath of the Paris attacks when Brussels was on lockdown and a day before Channel 4 broadcast Women of ISIS.
There were other related news stories. The Sun received fierce criticism for their poll taken in the wake of the Paris attacks. It shows that 19% of Muslims have ‘sympathy’ for those who go to Syria to fight for IS. The percentage is higher for those aged between 18 and 34.
Oddly, no one criticised the more dramatic results of the BBC’s poll of Muslims which followed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in January — 27% of respondents had ‘sympathy’ for the terrorists.
Why? Is it because The Sun is perceived as being a white working class paper? Is it because most people find Charlie Hebdo a repulsive publication? I think so. Therefore, both can be safely ignored.
Biased BBC has a good post on the subject, including the Frances Barber story. Incidentally, Barber is currently starring in a BBC series, Silk:
… if a non-Muslim spoke like that to a Muslim woman in a Niqab that would be classed as hate speech…why the difference? The BBC would be all over that story …
The BBC has not reported this story of ‘racial’ abuse….even though the victim is one of its own employees….the BBC would rather cover up for a Muslim extremist than defend its own employee in the interest of ‘community cohesion’.
They mention the difference in perception of the two aforementioned surveys.
As for Women of ISIS:
You may remember the BBC also totally ignored the astonishing expose by C4’s Dispatches programme ‘Undercover Mosque’ which revealed what the extremists were saying behind the closed doors of British mosques. The BBC instead spent the same week trashing Jade Goody for a ‘racist’ comment she made in the heat of the moment during an argument in the Big Brother house…great to see what the BBC’s real priorities are….never mind extremist Muslim hate speech, instead launch an all out, week long attack on a white (with a mixed-race father), working class girl.
Odd isn’t it what the BBC prioritises and what it seeks to hide. Three Muslim girls go off to be Jihadi brides and the BBC is there for them and their families….however, Muslim women aiding and abetting the radicalisation and recruitment of such girls in the name of Islam and the BBC ignores it.
This is the problem England will continue to have regarding Islam and why extremism is likely to increase rather than decrease in the short term.
The BBC are partly to blame. The BBC have a huge hold on the British public. Our neighbours religiously watch their news programmes and adopt the Beeb’s perspective on everything. There are millions more just like them.
At least the newspapers came out in support of Frances Barber. However, they need to also find out about other Uber drivers and anyone else who is telling women to stay off the streets at night.
We are not too different to Belgians and Swedes who attempt to brush a real problem aside in the name of tolerance with unenviable consequences. Belgian Jews are now beginning to leave the country. Nearly all of Sweden’s rapes are committed by one demographic. However, these are seen as minor issues which have been exaggerated.
At least France’s Muslim pundits are now beginning to speak out firmly against radicalisation. Mohammed Chirani, a political analyst and anti-terror specialist, is one such example. I have often heard him on RMC (radio). He speaks sense on many subjects. After the Paris attacks, he appeared on France’s iTele with this message (English subtitles at the MEMRI link). He says, in part, to the notional ‘caliph’ of IS, his followers and the Paris attackers:
We are the ones who will be kept firm. Truth is on our side. You are the wrongdoers. Know that our dead, the innocent French citizens, are in Paradise, and your dead, the terrorists, are in Hell. Know that Allah is our Protector and that you have no protector.
I’d like to tell you that you will not succeed in igniting the fire of strife in France … I’d like to tell you that we will wage jihad against you with the Quran. I’d like to tell the traitors who deceived France, betrayed their country and burned their IDs that we are kissing our ID documents.
At that point, he kissed his French passport.
England could use at least one, if not several, Mohammed Chiranis.
Remembrance Sunday, commemorated at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall, is always a moving experience, even if we watch it at home on BBC1.
This year, on November 8, 2015, 10,500 old soldiers, women’s auxiliaries, nurses, many others who served the United Kingdom in conflict and their families participated in the march-past.
One wreath-bearer was 100 years old. Another was 89, the youngest in his band of brothers from the Second World War. Yet another was blind. Those who could walk did so in military fashion. Those who were in wheelchairs sat up straight. Many of these men are elderly, some in great pain, no doubt. Yet, just as they did on the battlefield or on ship, they gave not a thought for themselves. They came to remember.
The array of berets, caps, medals, uniforms and wreaths is an incredible sight to behold. They really bring home a sense of history, heritage and shared memory that all these men and women have. Some make a weekend out of it, getting together with friends in the days beforehand to share a meal and remember their fallen comrades as well as the happier times.
The BBC’s Sophie Raworth interviewed a number of the veterans. One said that, during the two-minute silence, a flood of emotional memories raced through his mind: recalling friends who were killed, his relief at being liberated from a German POW camp in 1945 and the incredible joy he felt arriving home that year to embrace his family, whom he thought he’d never see again.
Others said that the two-minute silence completely enveloped Whitehall, seemingly unimaginable with the thousands of spectators lining the march-past route between the Cenotaph and Horse Guards Parade. It was solemn and sad. Yet, afterward, the veterans did as they always do, remember the good times, even in battle. Their comradeship, good humour and dignity are incredible things to see. We have been blessed to have their determination, integrity and courage. That goes doubly for those these 10,500 men and women travelled from far and wide — including Africa — to remember: those who gave their todays that we might have a tomorrow.
Like millions of other Britons, I wear my poppy with gratitude and reflection for those who died for our freedom.
May we never forget the sacrifices those brave men and women made on our behalf.
May we observe two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day, November 11 — Armistice Day — when the Great War came to an end. It had horrors no one could have contemplated. It was to be the war that ended all wars. And yet, the Second World War followed only two decades later.
In closing, if you have not seen a Remembrance Sunday ceremony, these two YouTube videos will give you a better idea of the sheer scale and ceremony involved.
The first is from 2014 and shows the beginning of the wreath laying, with the Queen placing the first at the foot of the Cenotaph:
The second shows the march-past — from 2011 — which follows the wreaths laid by the Queen, members of the Royal Family, politicians and Commonwealth dignitaries:
On Wednesday, September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II becomes the longest-serving British monarch.
The Queen will surpass Queen Victoria’s record reign of 63 years seven months and two days at around 5.30pm on Wednesday. She will spend the morning opening a new railway line in the Borders before returning to Balmoral.
She will spend the evening with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, but the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be carrying out engagements elsewhere after the Queen insisted the day should be “business as usual”.
The Telegraph article has a number of fascinating photographs, never before seen.
In 1991, the BBC made a documentary of the Queen called Elizabeth R. A BBC book accompanied the series.
David Secombe, 53 — son of the late comedian and practising Christian, Sir Harry Secombe — was the BBC photographer assigned to take pictures of the monarch as she went about her daily work. He took many stills over the course of eight months.
Secombe explained that his camera had to be silent the whole time. It was put in what he calls a blimp, which looked like a ‘large biscuit tin’. He also had to be unobtrusive. He told The Telegraph that he felt like David Attenborough observing wildlife. Few words were exchanged between Secombe and the Queen.
Oddly, this prestigious assignment did not catapult Secombe into a star photographer, as beautiful and captivating as his stills are. In 1992, he says, he had hardly any work. However, the Queen remembered him:
It did, though, mean I got to do a couple of official portraits of the Queen in subsequent years, one of the Queen and Prince Charles in the 1990s and one for the Golden Jubilee in 2002.
Do take a few moments to look at Secombe’s Royal photographs, which were not included in the Elizabeth R book. They show a completely different side to the Queen, normally seen publicly only at official engagements or in portraits.
Long may she reign over us!
Meanwhile, photographers interested in seeing more of David Secombe’s atmospheric work can visit his site The London Column.