Bardiness

"..a bardy view!"

Alfred…A Great Guy!

Statue_d'Alfred_le_Grand_à_WinchesterIn 1899 the Victorians marked the 1000th anniversary of the death of Alfred the Great as the founder of England and saviour of its Christian faith.

In the BBC Millennium Poll of 2000, Alfred didn’t make it into the top ten list of greatest Britons.

Sometime during those one hundred years the British lost favour with her most revered son.

Alfred wasn’t called “great” for nothing. He is the only British king with the title.

So what happened between then and now to change our views, or if not change them, merely ignore his achievements? Perhaps it’s just too long ago?

Alfred did however make it into the top 100, along with such luminaries as David Beckham, Tony Blair, Robbie Williams and even Boy George.

I’ll pause at this point to allow you a gasp of astonishment…..

Some sense prevailed in the top ten. Winston Churchill came out at number one, followed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Princess Diana, Charles Darwin, William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, Elizabeth I, John Lennon, Horatio Nelson and, in 10th place, Oliver Cromwell.

Bearing in mind that the poll was conducted 16 years ago, it’s possible that the nation had an unhealthy dose of celebrity worship and collective amnesia.

It was only three years after the death of Diana; the country was still euphoric basking in the afterglow of a new labour victory, and the nation had yet to be embroiled in the war on terror.

Although Tony Blair didn’t make it into the top ten he did make it into the top 100. If the poll was taken today, it’s highly unlikely he (and many others) would get a look in. The highest ranked living person at the time was Margaret Thatcher, coming in at #16.

60 of the top 100 were alive during the 20th century. Hence the poll was severely flawed for it was indicative of contemporary individuals and populist history. Surely Alfred was greater than John Lennon? Indeed he was, but he died in the 9th century, and not the 20th; nor was he a famous singer/songwriter. Imagine that!

Twelve years after the poll, both Churchill and Brunel played prominent roles in the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympics, and both coincidently topped the millennium poll of 2000, so perhaps there is some justice attached to it.

Back to Alfred the Great (those of you who have lost interest may leave now). Herewith follows a compact history lesson from a Bardy view:

When the Roman’s left Britain in AD 410, over 300 years of relative peace, stability and prosperity left along with them.

Her empire was under attack, Rome was in trouble and the legions needed to consolidate and attempt to fend off the vandals and barbarian hoards. For Britain, what followed was a period of substantial unrest, and is known today as the Dark Ages. It lasted for several hundred years, and England as we know it today did not exist. It became a place divided and ruled by feudal chiefs with a hotchpotch of kingdoms, the most powerful being Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia and Wessex.

Wessex was the most powerful, and during the rules of Egbert (802-839) and Aethelwulf (839-858) it expanded to include most of the land south of the River Thames, although not the Mercian controlled area of London. It was
during these periods that England was under constant raiding parties from the Vikings and Norsemen of Scandinavia.

In 865 the Vikings landed with force and within ten years subjugated the kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia and Mercia. Wessex was the next in line.By this time Alfred’s elder brother Ethelred was King of Wessex, and together they confronted the invasion of Wessex in 871. But they failed to prevent the advance and during the battle Ethelred was killed. Wessex was the last surviving Anglo-Saxon domain, and if it fell, then the land would be completely ruled by the Vikings.

Alfred took the throne, and through bravery and intelligence, through methods of tactics and guerrilla warfare, eventually prevailed.

He became an honourable and wise king, uniting the kingdoms, constructing the country’s first navy, instigating law and order, and promoting education, with particular emphasis on the English language, art, culture, and successfully creating – out of the Anglo-Saxon diaspora – the nation of England.

That’s why he is known as Alfred the Great.

Perhaps if a new poll is taken, he can take his rightful place along with Churchill, Elizabeth I, and Nelson as one of the nation’s top ten greatest Britons.

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Arts, Books, Education, Europe, History, London, Politics, Religion, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Beatles, the Philippines and President Marcos….

the-beatles

Fifty years ago in 1966 the Philippines fell out of love with the Fab Four. It was also the year that John Lennon made two comments, one which was to be his eventual downfall.

In July 1966 the Beatles toured the Philippines. Little did they know that the dictator President Marcos and his wife Imelda were accustomed to (and expected) absolute attention; and they certainly didn’t take kindly to the fact that the Beatles refused an invitation to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace.

Their manager Brian Epstein politely declined the invitation on the grounds that it was the group’s policy not to accept official invitations. Marcos took this as a personal snub to his family, and consequently revealed this perceived insult to the media, who ran with it, implying that it was also a snub to the Filipino people.

Subsequently all police protection was removed from them. The group and their entourage had to reach Manila airport unguarded. Their road manager Mal Evans was assaulted, and the band encountered a hostile crowd.

Although they managed to board the plane, Evans was removed, and Epstein was forced to hand over all the group’s Philippines earnings before they were all permitted to leave the country.

It led to John Lennon remarking that should he ever return to the country, he “would fly over it with an H-Bomb”. Biographies have suggested that they were all lucky to escape with their lives. 

Of course we can argue now that perhaps the Beatles were not familiar with international diplomacy, but they relied on their manager to manage, and the manager made a decision. Yet the times were different. Marcos was all powerful, and this unwitting act of disrespect was a personal insult which he successfully manipulated his people to generate sympathy for him. It’s a classic example of one man exercising power for his own ends. Indeed, this event is not so much about the Beatles, but about pride and power. It’s about a despot who assumed that his power was omnipotent. 

It would be another eighteen years before the Filipino people finally realised that this was power absolute and had the courage to rebel in 1984.

Of course, John Lennon did not make that remark directed at the Filipino people. At the time he was only 25 years old. Marcos in contrast was nearly 50 years old – so who do you think should have been the wiser? His wife was 37 at the time, and many would argue that she’s still none the wiser. 

Yet this was to be the catalyst of John Lennon’s demise. Three months earlier, in March 1966,he was reported in the London Evening Standard, during a fairly innocuous interview as stating that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. This was picked up by right-wing religious conservatives in the US, and exploited. It further fuelled the anger in the Catholic dominated Philippines, which even today they wrongly regard as the blue touch paper which set the firework off.

Through clever propaganda, instigated by Marcos, the Filipino people, half a century later, believe that their antagonism to the Beatles was because of Lennon’s Jesus statement. It could not be further from the truth.

The story had no merit until a US teen magazine naively ran with it on their front cover, resulting in an evangelic radio station WAQY in Birmingham, Alabama announcing that it wouldn’t play anymore Beatles music and that they were going to burn their records. This led to a domino effect, and other radio stations followed suit.

The English brushed off his comments in the newspaper at the time – they were considered of no relevance, and merely the ranting’s of a young man. Not a single word of complaint came from the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church.

In August when the situation had reached a rolling-stone momentum which threatened the existence of the group, John Lennon was forced to apologise twice – stating that he was not boasting about the fame of the Beatles, and he never intended to cause offence to people of religious faith. It happened in Chicago and proved to be the last Beatles tour.

So let’s put the record straight – here and now! The Filipino people didn’t get angry with the Beatles because of what John Lennon said. They were manipulated and encouraged by a state-run media, controlled by a demigod dictator, who was snubbed by the most popular band of the age. He felt insulted, and it struck at his pride. Such was his bitterness that he ensured that his countrymen would feel the same pain and humiliation.

He controlled the media, the military and the government and therefore he controlled the minds of the people. It is he and his cronies that the Filipino people should be angry with – not the Beatles.

Today, the Beatles are revered in the Philippines and there isn’t one karaoke bar which is not playing a Beatles song and not one Filipino crooner who doesn’t attempt to sing one.

As Paul acknowledged – it wasn’t the people, but the regime that caused the problems, and he’s actually proud in hindsight that it was the Beatles which snubbed the Marcos family and dented their pedestal.

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, Religion, The Beatles, The Philippines | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bardiness 400- Speakers’ Corner……

Speakers-Corner-006This is my 400th Bardiness post.

In a democracy where the ballot box is the measure of freedom, sometimes the common man needs to voice his concerns beyond the electorate system. The internet has given a voice to the silent, and blogs have given a platform to the unheard. Those voices are all shouting now, and the noise is deafening.

Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park is a place where those with a point of view can stand up and express themselves. Some will get an audience, some will not, and some will get heckled. It has been designated a space for freedom of speech for over 165 years.

Anyone can turn up unannounced, and talk on any subject. As recently as 1999 a ruling by Lord Justice Sedley in his decision with a case involving the UK Director of Public Prosecutions, described Speakers’ Corner as demonstrating “the tolerance which is both extended by the law to  opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear,”

This ruling famously established in English case law that freedom of speech could not be limited to the inoffensive but extended also to “the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome, and the provocative, as long as such speech did not tend to provoke violence” .

That Right, accorded by Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, also accorded the right to be offensive.

What is a blog then…if not a virtual Speakers Corner? A place where we can be “irritating, contentious, eccentric, heretical, unwelcome and provocative”, providing we don’t provoke violence or hatred? There may be many blogs inciting the latter two, but Bardiness stands by English Law, and the European Convention of Human Rights.

This post is an expression of the fundamental principles of freedom of speech. Bardiness may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but there are countries in the world which won’t even allow the leaves in the pot, never mind allow them to brew and be poured.

Perhaps in the future “Englishness” will become synonymous with “freedom”.  Archaic words along with lost Latin meaning  tolerance, courage, dignity and self-respect.

They say that every Englishman is born free. Living free however is a constant battle and something we must fight for everyday……

Freedom in death is freedom too late.

This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

(Shakespeare HenryV scene III)

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Education, History, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Edith Piaf

“The Little Sparrow was the epitome of the classic French chanson: supercharged, even melodramatic, and emotionally extracting every last drop of sentiment from a lyric.”

The singer gained popularity as she toured France, her petite frame concealing an energy which would drive her to the pinnacle of her profession, singing in cabarets and vaudeville theatres and, from 1936, performing on radio and recordings.

Her great fame came after World War II, with her song “Le Vie en Rose” becoming an international standard.

During World War II she worked with the French Resistance by using her popularity to have herself photographed with French prisoners that she had performed for. These photos were then used to make identity papers that would be smuggled back to the prisoners during her return engagements.

Born Edith Gassion on December 19, 1915, in Ménilmontant, a poor district of Paris, legend has it she was born under a street light on the corner of the Rue de Belleville, with two policeman in attendance.

A difficult and exploited childhood led eventually to her being found singing on a street corner in the Pigalle area in 1935 by Louis Leplée, a cabaret owner. Leplée took the young singer under his wing and renamed her “La Môme Piaf” (which in Parisian slang translates roughly as “the little sparrow”.]

The voice of Edith Piaf carries with it perhaps more national identity than that of any other recorded artist in the world. Tiny, frail, and tragic in her life, Piaf brought French identity to the rest of the world in a way that was understandable to all.

Her voice was strong, bold, and passionate, even as she grew more frail and  infirm.

When she died on October 11th, 1963 the news heralded a nationwide outpouring of grief, two million people jammed the streets of Paris, stopping traffic to watch her funeral procession.

Her grave at Père-Lachaise has become a shrine for thousands of visitors every year, and her music continues to stir the heartstrings with vibrant, passionate and yet vulnerable emotions.

Edith Piaf was one of the most popular female singers of all time, with a unique voice and talent that conquered the hearts of admirers around the world.

Her life story was truly remarkable: from her birth in 1915 on a policeman’s cape, under gaslight, to her extraordinary love affairs and heart-breaking tragedies, she was a true artist that lived to sing.

 

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Arts, Culture, Europe, General, History, Music | , , , , | 3 Comments

The Walking Dead – A Game of Scones

walking

Catching up with the last episode of The Walking Dead our intrepid heroes have all managed to make it to “Sanctuary”. The usual convoluted strorylines have played out, with back stories of the main characters, indeed, this is becoming a soap opera, the difference being that the ever present threat of dangerous dead people are forever present.

It’s reached the stage that the enemies are not zombies, but real people. It’s an interesting development, and necessary to fill out a simple survival tale. The survivors have resorted to basic animal instincts to survive, for in a world of Zombies, nobody can be trusted, chaos ensues, and basic instincts akin to mediaeval times take control.

How much more shock can we endure. As I have mentioned in other posts, the Walking Dead is an excuse for gory violence on a grand scale. Children either commit murder or are victims of it. Adults teach the children how to fire arms. Messages are written in the blood of zombies because pen and ink are not available. Which is quite astonishing, because when the survivors raid a shop they never pick up any sensible things like writing instruments. They often find tinned fruit, and seem to have an unlimited supply of matches to light a fire.

They have been wandering around Atlanta for four seasons now, and the weather has been ambient. The most sinister villain was English – The Governor – ok, he was played by an English actor – and a nasty piece of work he was. But he was the smartest because he knew about local government control – mad, but focused – a bit like Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London (I was going to say without the crazed look in his eye…but on second thoughts…!)

Unfortunately David Morrissey (said Governor) completely flipped his lid and went rampant on a gorefest of murder and mayhem – resulting in his own demise. It’s strange that if he had kept his head (and his eye patch) he would have been a great leader – after all, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king! In the Land of the Zombies he would have been Emperor!

Still, David at the mid-season break was killed off, and our motley crew of survivors were scattered to all points of the compass.

It’s a sad loss – a villain true was Morrissey. I equate his demise to the execution of Richard Sharpe in the Game of Thrones. I mean whatisname….(long pause).. Ned Stark aka Sean Bean (or vice versa).

Focus for Gawds sake!

On the subject of Game of Thrones….hang on, that’s a different post! Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, our heroes were dispersed but seem to have all met up again in a strange place which offers safety. Of course, there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye, and something sinister is afoot. I don’t really know what it is – I’ve never read the comics (oops, I mean “graphic novels”) but it looks like the hero Rick (English actor Andrew James Clutterbuck aka Andrew Lincoln) has found his mojo and is about to unleash hell.
What would Hollywood do without the English? Indeed, what would Game of Thrones do without us?
On which subject, I must make an observation. Surely if the zombie apocalypse happened in London, we English would have created some order by now – you know – contingency, bureaucracy, trade, pen pushers, administration, home guard, colonel Blimps etc? How about the Women’s Institute and Salvation Army? After all, we all like a brass band and a cup of tea with crumpet. A Game of Scones! Clearly Atlanta isn’t ready for all that.

April 12, 2014 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Game of Thrones, Humour, The Walking Dead, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bardiness #300

"Who said watching paint dry wasn't fun?"

They couldn't have been more wrong!  Bar de Collage

I've been neglecting my platform here due to a new-found interest in watercolour painting (some examples on the right).

I find it more enjoyable than writing. Don't get me wrong, I'm still opinionated with specific observations and have considerable issues to address which normally I would dissect and present in an informative and humorous way as possible.

Continue reading

August 12, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Culture, General, The Philippines, Travel | , , , | 4 Comments

Game of Thrones

Game-of-ThronesAs usual I have arrived late to the party.

In this instance the "Game of Thrones" which is aired on Sky Atlantic.

I must admit I shy away from mythological fantasy, especially if penned by such questionable luminaries as J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis, and dare I say, J K Rowling. (Notice how each author initialises their moniker!) 

So not being a Sky subscriber I was ignorant not only of the TV production but also the author who inspired it – George R R Martin (two initials in that one – must be a winning formula) from his collection of epic novels entitled "A Song of Ice and Fire".

Continue reading

June 1, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Education, Europe, Film, Game of Thrones, General, History, Politics, Religion, Science, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dan Brown – Inferno

Hell philippines picA restaurant chain in the Philippines has reacted with a marketing coup in response to Dan Brown's new novel "Inferno". 

Unlike the humourless Francis Tolentino, Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), who has taken great umbrance to one of the book's characters describing his city as "The Gates of Hell".

Tolentino is upset that a fictional character, in a fictional book, views Manila with such disgust and a place where the traffic jams last for six hours, and where prostitution is rife etc etc.

He has even accessed records from the Philippines Bureau of Immigration and discovered that Brown has never even visited the Philippines.

Continue reading

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Education, General, Politics, Religion, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Captain Cook and the USS Guardian…

USS_GuardianIn 1770 Captain Cook's HMS Endeavour grounded on the
unchartered waters of the Great Barrier Reef and got stuck.

Through exceptional seamanship he lightened his load and with a severely
damaged hull was able to free his ship, and nurse her towards a safe harbour
for repairs.

He had no state of the art navigation, no electronic devices, no
sea-bed imaging and no satellite communication.

On January 17, 2013, the USS Guardian, a 223ft minesweeper,
costing $277 million, commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Mark Rice, ran aground on the
Tubbataha Reef, in the Philippines.

Continue reading

April 2, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Conservation, Current Affairs, Education, History, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Harlem Shake – Choreomania

There used to be a medical term for this: St Vitus’ Dance.dancing plague_0

There’s an outbreak of exhibitionism going on, which involves people losing their sanity and gyrating like demented chimpanzees.

Also known as “Dancing Mania“, it was a social phenomenon that particularly occurred in Europe during the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people dancing erratically.

It’s also been known as “epidemic dancing” and scientists described it as a “collective mental disorder”“collective hysterical disorder” and “mass madness”.

Historically previous records indicate that they took place in times of hardship.

There were also suggestions that people suffered from some kind of poisoning, stress, or tension caused by natural disasters – a collective shared stress, and many danced to relieve themselves of the stress and poverty of the times. Another popular theory is that the outbreaks were all staged.

Yet here we are in the 21st Century and a similar thing is happening. What is possessing seemingly normal people to behave like blithering idiots, from a plane load of people hysterically dancing in the aisles at 30,000 feet, to miners underground in Australia – most of whom have been fired as a consequence? Why would people risk losing their jobs, ignoring health and safety, just to expose themselves as a bunch of lunatics seeking attention on the internet?

Continue reading

March 4, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, Events, History, Humour, Science | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

%d bloggers like this: