"..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 Prince, the Prime Minister and the Prima Donnas…..

It has been suggested that England lost her World Cup 2018 bid because of the negative allegations by the British media of corruption within certain sections of the Federation of Insidious Football Apparatchiks (FIFA).There are many who believe that these revelations should have been postponed.

Those who think that have clearly lost their moral compass. The notion that the the BBC should have waited until after the results of the bid to disclose their suspicions would pander to corrupt manipulation akin to the antithesis of that which they were prepared to expose.

If there was a gong for fair play laced with naivety then England would get the gold. I found the presentation cringing in the extreme. The future king waxing lyrical about his passion for football (since when have the royals been associated with chanting on the terraces?), and the PM thinking that his oratory skills (commendable as they are) could convince a secret society whose snouts are so embedded in a trough of detritus, together with a charming but flawed football star emotionally reminiscing on his granddad, could sway at the eleventh hour a decision which had been clearly decided months ago beggars belief.

Add to that an "ambassador" who almost said that if it hadn't been for football he would have ended up in criminal gangs, portraying a picture of Manchester populated by disillusioned, directionless and violent youths, where the only escape is to kick a leather ball around, and the image of England was sealed – hook, line and sinker.

The accompanying film espousing English football's reverence around the world, without a single cultural emphasis on the nation which invented it, with all the traditions, values and sense of sportsmanship missing, left me as a viewer in despair. And yet this was expected to convince an international disparate group of 22 voters, each with a personal agenda, to embrace this tosh with open arms.

What is it with the English that they must continue to push a politically correct, multi-cultural, ethnic melting pot at the expense of the majority who are, fundamentally English, diverse and proud, and would like to see some decent flag waving for a change.

What is it with the English who think they must promote a legacy for the world? We already did that and we don't need to apologise anymore by disguising our achievements wrapped up in gobbledegook. For God's sake, stand up and shout out who we are. That's what the Russians did. And if the bid was stitched up in some way by the "mafia state", and if it was obvious that tournaments must go to those parts of the world which have never held it before, then we should have expected it. South Africa this year, Brazil in 2014, now Russia in 2018 and Qatar(!) in 2022.

If we only got 2 votes (one of which from the British delegate) spare a thought for the Australians who only got one for the 2022 bid, who also spent much more than England. This travesty is preposterous and cost us £15m.

The chief arsehole Sepp Blatter could not have wished for greater credence than to see three eminent visitors fawn themselves in Zurich – one of whom was a prince and the other a prime minister.

Enough of this nonsense, and shame on England for not having greater intelligence.

Finally, if there is any good to come out of this, it is that the independence of the British media was not influenced and went ahead regardless. Which highlights another point. If the votes went against England because of that, then clearly it merely enhances the suspicions. It means the bid was not won on merit but lost on spite. If that is the culture of FIFA then to hell with them, and lets be proud that our national broadcaster had the guts to go to air when they did. Russians take note.

The right thing to do would be to boycott the competition until a transparent root and branch reform was implemented. And those pigs might fly.

December 3, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Football, General, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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