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.

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

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

The Walking Dead – the 2nd Amendment Showcase….

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**Possible Spoiler Alert**

Having caught up with the Walking Dead, after its mid-season (4) break, I am left defending my initial observations herehere and here, back when it all began.

The problem with the drama is that it’s walking in circles. Series one saw the motley group of survivors attempting to find somewhere safe to live. Series two found them on a farm which got overrun and they had to leave, getting dispersed in the process; series 3 found them in a prison; and series four sees them overrun, back outside, and dispersed yet again.

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February 11, 2014 Posted by | Books, Education, Film, Game of Thrones, Humour, Religion, Science, The Walking Dead, Travel, USA | , , , , , , , , | 3 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".

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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.

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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.

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

Life of Pi


Life-of-pi-poster2"The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't
biological necessity — it's envy.

Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in
love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can."

The quote comes from "Life of Pi" and continues…"But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no
importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud."

Determined to see the movie, I've decided to read the novel
first.

By coincidence I received it as a Christmas present.

It's an
enthralling, intelligent and evocative tale, beautifully written, rich with
insight and challenging to the senses.

That's probably why it was the Man
Booker Prize
winner 10 years ago.

I meant to read it then. I was late getting
there – but better late than never.

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January 7, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Conservation, Culture, Film, Religion | , | 3 Comments

Will a kindle light my fire? What the Dickens is it all about?

Kindle2I bought a Kindle recently.

Not the "Paperwhite" or "Fire". Just the lightest and most basic.

There's a limit to how many bells and whistles I need to rattle my cage.

I held off for a while because being a traditionalist I was averse to replacing the standard book.

Apart from all the free e-books available I decided to purchase the complete works of William Shakespeare, Joseph Conrad, and Charles Dickens. All for under six quid.

Those collections alone would fill a couple of
bookcases, so imagine being able to have them all on a single device that can fit in a
pocket?

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December 22, 2012 Posted by | Books, Culture, Education, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forbrydelsen….The Killing

250px-Forbrydelsen,_DVDSince BBC4 began showing European crime and political
thrillers I've been hooked. They started with Wallender, the Swedish morose
detective who carried the careworn wear and tear of debilating anxiety, whose
heart condition wasn't helped by his general lack of fitness.

He drinks and
smokes, carries a paunch, lives by the sea, has a complicated private life
but survives with his trusty dog. He can't wait for his retirement, but at the
same time knows that once he takes his pension it could set him off on his long
slow decline. Still, I like Wallender because he's a seasoned old miserable
git, with rare displays of compassion and emotion.

Then there was Spiral (Engrenages) the hard hitting series
about the sleazy underbelly of Paris and the rather suspect methods of the
French police. Certainly not Midsomer Murders this one. Our anti-hero Captain
Laure Berthaud
is another character beset by emotional problems who walks the
fine line between right and wrong in order to get to the truth. In fact modern day police methods here are
not dissimilar to the Sweeney's (circa 1974). Spiral is not for the squeamish
and Laure is on constant edge, always under suspicion by her superiors, and
beset by colleagues who are equally loose cannons.

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December 3, 2012 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, Italy, Politics, Religion, The Walking Dead, USA | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Walking Dead, Doctor Who and the Waltons…

The-walking-dead1If you haven't seen episodes 3 and 4 of the third series of The Walking Dead then this post may well spoil them for you – then again, the
very word "spoiler" fits the show to a tee. It is incredibly
spoilt. 

We were mercifully spared from the motley crew of "heroes" in the third episode which is the subject of this post, (episode 4 is just too gruesome to
discuss right now) and attention was directed at a sword wielding amazon who
tugs around her chained and mutilated zombified brothers.

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November 11, 2012 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, History, Humour, Religion, Science, The Walking Dead, United Kingdom, USA | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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