"..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

Cameron and Osborne – More Cam than Wise?

Morecambeandwise2Between 1997 and 2010 the nation known as the United Kingdom
suffered the greatest irresponsible government in modern times.

One man more
than any other was responsible, his name was Gordon Brown.

Whilst his boss Tony
may have danced with bravado with his partner George Bush on the
international ballroom floor, it was he, Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who held the purse strings, and
consequently believed that he was Father Christmas.

Money was no object to this
strange caledonian. Indeed, he was the antithesis for a Scotsman, and far from
being miserly he spread his money with charitable abandon. He even gave it to
thousands of tourists.

History will judge him, but unfortunately his replacement is
even more dangerous.

A change of government does not mean a change of intelligence,
and consequently the new incumbents are equally pathetic – the difference being
where one chancellor was a philanthropist, the other is Scrooge.

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January 31, 2013 Posted by | Current Affairs, Education, General, History, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Shard

The shardI watched a programme recently about the building of the Shard in London.

It's the tallest building in western Europe, and its method of construction is a great human achievement in manpower and engineering.

Particularly as it used a technique of building up as it was building down at the same time. Until that is, the depth of the foundations had reached it's limit, at which point it was all hands on deck.

The statistics are incredible and the concrete used would fill five Wembley Stadiums.

The cranes alone were the tallest, and one even sat in a lift shaft suspended in the central core to erect the final floors and place the pretentious and (if I may so say) ridiculous flourish on the top (assuming it is now complete).

But the question is why?

Well, the cost to the developers at £1.5B is insignificant for the returns on offer. Apart from a tourist viewing deck which will attract scores of thousands (at a price) every year, there will be a hotel, and luxury apartments for the exceptionally rich, paying £30m per unit.

They will be the best views over London and beyond.

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May 4, 2012 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, London, Science, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pasties and Petrol – The Famous Five

Famous fiveI was beginning to miss the last UK Labour Government, not because I liked them, but because they could always be counted on to provide great blog fodder.

I think 25% of my posts since I began this blog three years ago were fuelled by the Tony Blair's, Gordon Brown's and John Prescott's of this world. Not only by the individuals but by the sheer stupidity of their policies.

But in the last few days I find that the new Tory-Lib-Dem coalition government are equally as idiotic.

Indeed, if there is a secret biological clone guaranteed to ensure that all politicians either look and behave alike, this last week has reinforced the conspiracy theory.

If you put the DNA of Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and David Milliband in the same petri dish, mix them all up, blast them with an agent to agitate the mix, and place it under a microscope, it will be an undisputed fact that the end result will produce carbon copies of the original ingredients.

I suppose that is what cloning is all about.

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March 31, 2012 Posted by | Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, Events, General, Humour, London, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

It’s Déjà vu! “Mr Livingstone I presume?”

The London Labourites have regressed to the past and nominated Ken Livingstone to run against Mayor Boris Johnson in 2012 – just prior to the Olympics. Was there no one else available other than Oona King, who was substantially beaten? Pleasant enough, but Mayor material she is not, and is still sore at being ousted of her parliamentary seat by maverick George Galloway.

But never mind that – do Londoners really want to resurrect "Red" Ken, whose priority is to restore the western section of the Congestion Zone (after Boris has decided to abolish it) as well as many other of his daft and negative ideas?

Listening to Livingstone's acceptance speech it is full of the same old socialist rhetoric about reducing fares, making life equal, reducing poverty, making London greener and more environmentally friendly, submitting to EU bureaucracy, wanting it to be a hub for the emerging economic markets of India and China etc etc. This from the guy who believed that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was a friend worth having, as well as inviting suspect representatives of religious groups with extreme and unpalatable views; knocking Boris for his cuts, reneging on his manifesto promises,and refusing to talk to the transport unions and playing the class card.

Why should Boris talk to militant union leaders like Bob Crow, who no doubt laments he was born at the wrong time and should have been a significant force in the miserable 1970's when the Trades Union Congress leaders like Vic Feather and Len Murray would regularly turn up at Downing Street for tea with threats of strikes and hold to ransom the then pathetic Labour Governments of Wilson and Callaghan? We can only be grateful that Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock never reached number 10. (And don't get me started on Crow's other pals – the fossilised designer-suited Unite Union leaders Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson who appear intent on bringing down British Airways! Good grief – this trinity would plunge us all back 35 years if they had their way.)

Contrary to misguided belief, particularly his own, Ken Livingstone is not "Mr London", and still festers over Margaret Thatcher's abolition of the Greater London Council when he was the leader of it. He's been in and out of the cold – shunned by Tony Blair and the last Labour Government, but here he is welcomed back into the fold with all the hypocrisy that New Labour was famed for.

Why can't he just shut up and retire? I'm heartily sick of Livingstone and his dinosaur socialist ways, and I'm equally sick of the defeated Labourites like Harriet Harman who now embrace him harking back to a time to a dreamlike golden age, but oblivious that it was a dark one, refusing to accept or take responsibility for the damage they inflicted on this once great nation over the last 13 years.

Furthermore, I don't want him to be representing London at the Olympics, I want to see a jolly, vibrant, intelligent and socially adept, humorous and entertaining mayor like Boris, who for all his peccadilloes and idiosyncrasy, is the right man for this fantastic city.

Livingstone will pander to any minority on the assumption that if he defends them all they will be enough to vote for him. We've been there, seen it, lived it, and suffered it.

For Gawd's sake ignore him and perhaps he'll go away.

September 24, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, London, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We’re All Hung Up….Our Gasters have been Flabbered…

Well it was to be expected I suppose. The Tories got the most seats, but not enough to form a majority government. The LibDem's bubble burst amid all the hype of change and personality, and the tired old Labour party got their just deserts. The wheeling and dealing will now take place and chances are David Cameron will become PM supported by Nick Clegg and his LibDems.

Probably the most dignified departure of a losing Prime Minister was by John Major, who having been defeated by Tony Blair in 1997 calmly walked away to watch the cricket at Lords. It was a lovely sunny day and a perfect one for watching the cork on willow. That was statesmanship and a rare thing today.

Gordon Brown has the opportunity to follow suit, and anything less by hanging on to power by his fingertips can only prolong the inevitable. Go gracefully Gordon. Let Mandy and Milly play their games of intrigue to salvage the spoils. If however Clegg joins Labour, then frankly I may seriously consider a one way ticket east. After all, how can the party with the most votes end up being squeezed out by collusion. It's preposterous. We will know soon how principled Nick Clegg truly is.

So I would hope that even if Cameron doesn't get the support he wants, there's still a chance he could go it alone, perhaps he could become the new 21st century Disraeli. The Queen is involved with all this somehow, though how much influence she has I know not. Even the academics appear confused on the constitutional intricacies.

On a local level I'm delighted that my constituency MP was soundly given the boot. The ex-Labour incumbent nicknamed Mrs Expenses suffered the delusion that her abuse of parliamentary privileges to the tune of using tax payers money to buy a luxury central London pad a mere ten miles from her main home, would be overshadowed by her work in the community. Fortunately the people saw sense. Her defence was that it was within the rules. The fact is that it was an immoral abuse of the rules and put her interests over and above the very people she should be representing.

So goodbye and good riddance is my sentiment.

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Current Affairs, London, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Ghost Writer

I have no desire to see the Ghost Writer, a new movie directed by Roman Polanski and adapted from Robert Harris's novel The Ghost. Ghost

The book was a disappointment. In fact it was tosh.

It was a recent publication when I purchased it, and I cant remember if I bought it at an airport on route to Washington DC, or whether in a shop in Maryland, but I know I bought it because of the author.

Robert Harris is one of those safe writers who has written some exceptional stuff. Travellers tend to go for the familiar, and he is one of the elite who find themselves prominently on display on the book shelves.

This book insulted my intelligence and I was thoroughly bored with it. It was clear that the principle character was meant to be a certain former UK prime minister, who had a manipulative wife pulling the strings, and laced with sexual power and prowess.

When she began making passes at the ghost writer employed to write her husbands memoirs, and successfully bedding him, it lurched into farce.

The book stretched the imagination, and such were the blatant disguised references to the UK former Prime Minister I wondered whether this book would be published in the UK for fear of libel. The best thing about it was the end – literally – It was a very clever device utilised by the author and was it's only saving grace.

I remember saying to my nephew that he could throw the book in his bin if he didn't want to read it. He was getting married at the time, so maybe it's still on the shelf – unlike him who is now off it.

Imagine my surprise to learn that a movie has been made of this silly book and directed by the eminent Polanski – which no doubt accounts for the well known actors in it. Ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan plays Adam Lang (the ex-PM), Ewan McGregor plays the ghost writer enamoured by Ruth (Lang's wife) played by Olivia Williams (who can blame him) and a host of other famous names are part of the production.

The timing couldn't be better as the UK embarks upon a general election. The more publicity it gets the greater the electorate may be swung to dump new Labour hook, line and sinker.

I hope the movie is a fantastic hit regardless – It could be the best weapon to nail this defunct shower of a government once for all.

March 30, 2010 Posted by | Books, Current Affairs, Film, General, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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