Friday, 23 April 2010

St George's Day

Well, it's that time of year again, time for council busybodies to object to the English displaying their Englishness, and for most of the English to ignore their national day.

Here's a fine bit of Englishness to cheer you (and me) on this fine Spring morning. It's an old Stanley Holloway monologue, written by Marnott Edgar in 1937, and it makes me smile - hope it does the same for the rest of you.


I'll tell of the Magna Charter
As were signed at the Barons' command
On Running mead Island in t' middle of t' Thames
By King John, as were known as 'Lack Land'.

Some say it were wrong of the Barons
Their will on the King so to thrust,
But you'll see if you look at both sides of the case
That they had to do something, or bust.

For John, from the moment they crowned him,
Started acting so cunning and sly,
Being King, of course, he couldn't do any wrong,
But, by gum, he'd a proper good try.

He squandered the ratepayer's money,
All their cattle and corn did he take,
'Til there wasn't a morsel of bread in the land,
And folk had to manage on cake.

The way he behaved to young Arthur
Went to show as his feelings was bad;
He tried to get Hubert to poke out his eyes,
Which is no way to treat a young lad.

It were all right him being a tyrant
To vassals and fiolks of that class,
But he tried on his tricks with the Barons an' all,
And that's where he made a faux-pass.

He started bombarding their castles,
And burning them over their head,
'Til there wasn't enough castles left to go round,
And they had to sleep six in a bed.

So they went to the King in a hody,
And their spokesman, Fitzwalter by name,
He opened the 'ole in his 'elmet and said,
Concil-latory like, 'What's the game?'

The King starts to shilly and shally,
He sits and he haws and he hums,
'Til the Barons in rage started gnashing their teeth,
And them with no teeth gnashed their gums.

Said Fitz, through the 'ole in his 'elmet,
'It was you as put us in this plight.'
And the King having nothing to say to this 'ere
Murmured 'Leave your address and I'll write.'

This angered the gallant Fitzwalter;
He stamped on the floor with his foot,
And were starting to give John a rare ticking off;
When the 'ole in his 'elmet fell shut.

'We'll get him a Magna Charter,'
Said Fitz when his face he had freed;
Said the Barons, 'That's right and if one's not enough,
Get a couple and happen they'll breed.'

So they set about making a Charter,
When at finish they'd got it drawn up,
It looked like a paper on cattle disease,
Or the entries for t' Waterloo Cup.

Next day, King John, all unsuspecting,
And having the afternoon free,
To Runningmead Island had taken a boat,
And were having some shrimps for his tea.

He had just pulled the 'ead off a big 'un,
And were pinching its tail with his thumb,
When up came a barge load of Barons, who said,
'We thought you'd be here so we've come.'

When they told him they'd brought Magna Charter,
The King seemed to go kind of limp,
But minding his manners he took off his hat
And said 'Thanks very much, have a shrimp.'

'You'd hest sign at once,' said Fitzwalter,
'If you don't, I'll tell thee for a start
The next coronation will happen quite soon,
And you won't be there to take part.'

So they spread Charter out on t' tea table,
And John signed his name like a lamb,
His writing in places was sticky and thick
Through dipping his pen in the jam.

And it's through that there Magna Charter,
As were signed by the Barons of old,
That in England to-day we can do what we like,
So long as we do what we're told.


  1. Re-Reading your FRB Comment on Order-Order I don't disagree as much as I thought I did.

    BTW. AC1 this morning was Tat.

  2. Thanks. AC1 - I think I do understand FRB, but am always happy to be educated by those who know more - as a simple programmer and mathematician, the vaguiaries of politics and finance tend to confuse me.

  3. Can't remember my moniker21 May 2010 at 00:17

    I am intrigued by your view of Israel as being something immensely unpleasant. It seems to jar with many of your other views the greater majority of which I am in sympathy with.

    I was born just one year and a few days after the creation of the state. I have no known Jewish background so I speak as an interested observer only. However I have had business dealings with many Jewish people and have created some of my most profitable ventures with them. One of them is now, years after we concluded our last business affairs, one of my best friends.

    When I became politically aware, I did have some difficulty over the creation of the Jewish state. I have never regarded dispossession that is generations old (and out of the experience of those now living) as holding the same validity as the dispossession of someone who is still alive, however old. To me the land of one's birth generally provides the best indicator of right to live there (with a few obvious exceptions e.g. aliens in transit.) So, in my lifetime, Israel has become legitimised to me by the birth of so many of their citizens there.

    The expiration of the British Mandate in Palestine did trigger a situation that one could regard as unavoidable given the precedents, but that is another matter.

    So to the citizens. As in the UK, they come in all shapes, antecedent nationalities and politics. The word Zionist is politically charged and comes in many flavours and anyway is not central to the lives of many. From my observations on various visits there, the citizens are essentially human beings first and supporters of their country second. They are incredibly focussed and dedicated to their country in a way that I wish the UK and, particularly, the English were. I don't have a problem with them at all in that respect.

    The problems that we have seen in our lifetimes usually come from settlement populations and take generations or centuries to develop into strife, viz. Northern Ireland.

    I assume that your antipathy is aimed at their government rather than the peoples. But I would ask why you should see them as any more venal than say our recent government?

  4. Moniker - my views on Israel were formed at school - the Jewish contingent made up almost a fifth of the pupils, and a large number of them celebrated Israel as some sort of great achievement - greening the desert, bringing democracy and progress to the benighted Arabs, et cetera.

    As a naturally skeptical type (OK - a fully paid up member of the awkward squad), I did my own reading around on the question, and came to the conclusion that the setting up of the state of Israel was possibly the worst outcome for the rest of us that could have been imagined, given the reliance of the West on oil and the damage that an irritant in the Middle East was doing to our interests. I also concluded that the greening of the desert, remarkable though it was, was leading to the depletion of the available water resources for the Lebanon and the West Bank (and parts of Jordan), so was more a stealing of resource than a real achievement. This was all in the mid 70s - I am a child of the 60s and the occpuation of the West Bank and Gaza, plus the Yom Kippur war, were still recent events.

    I'm yet to be convinced that Israel is a good idea - I have not visited the country (although I have been to Jordan, and the people of the area are wonderful), but I have met a few Israelis over here, and have nothing against them as people - it's just that the world would be a less dangerous place if their state did not exist.

    My antipathy is always aimed at governments - I haven't found too much to hate about the coalition yet, but then again they've only had a couple of weeks, so give it time...

  5. Can't remember my moniker23 May 2010 at 08:32

    I have also been accused of being awkward squad (4-star!) and am complete with an immensely sceptical past but which is tempered by libertarian beliefs which are necessarily metaphysical, being founded in idealism. So in philosophical development, I am the exact reverse of Russell.

    As David Hume would have said, one must distinguish between "is" and "ought" in order to have any meaningful inquiry at all. They cannot be derived one from another. The State of Israel exists, it was both de jure and de facto before either of us were born. Therefore, whilst I understand what you say, which may be valid as a personal preference, it cannot further any discussion that is interested in providing a solution to the area, and the world, to suggest it may not be a good idea.

    The Ottoman Empire set up so many problems for the world to sort out later and what has since transpired can be seen in the light of logical consequence. The Balfour Declaration, whatever one thinks of it, was only able to respond to a situation that was already in place. Indeed, Napoleon enabled the emancipation of the Jews, even to the extent of considering a homeland for them.

    To the issue of the Jewish pupils at your school, I can see that their views would have appeared extremely tribal and juvenile. This is understandable. The judgement of this, if it going to be reasonably impartial, is better done on the actual ground and with the people directly involved. In addition to Israel, like you, I have also visited Jordan and travelled along its entire border with Israel. I have also been to Lebanon, Syria, The Sinai and Egypt. I found the peoples of all these places charming.

    The difference though, may be mischievously illustrated by comparing Marks and Spencer with a market stall in Aswan. One is clean, of guaranteed quality, has good business practice, delivers high customer satisfaction and loyalty and is financially secure. The other falls behind on many of these points. I am smiling as I type these words at the memory of a rickety market stall in Morocco that I once saw which styled itself "Marks and Spencer Shop"! It shows that even Arabs appreciate the quality that an organisation founded by their enemies can reflect aspirations that they themselves can only dream about.

    I would not wish to bring too much weight to bear on the above comparison but it does, to me, hold a salient analogy with the difference in life between Israel and its neighbours. I can accept this whilst also recognising the enormous debt to the preservation of our culture that we owe to the Alexandrian School.

  6. Can't remember my moniker28 May 2010 at 11:32

    Thought this might make you laugh, Paragnostic. On Guido: Cable’s Positioning, you weighed in at some unearthly hour in the morning (the sort of time that I thought I prowled alone) with, "Eeyup, moniker – have you a secret admirer in the trollish classes?"

    Well the troll and I carried on for almost another 24 hours after this until I hit on the idea of saying, "Ten thousand years to the Emperor", but in Japanese. I had previously compared him to the Jap soldier who was discovered in the 1970s, unaware that the war was long over.

    Obviously the poor retard is not fluent in the language (or cannot use Babel Fish!), hell he barely speaks English at times, but it appears to have effectively silenced him. So I leave the tip for when he next bothers you.

    It would be quite amusing, and potentially unsettling, for him to find that all Guido's contributors are now conversing using rōmaji!


Post what you like - I'm thick skinned and not easily offended (though Zionists may be deleted without mercy)