Ronnie Corbett passed away this morning. He will be missed. Cheers, Ronnie, and thanks for the laughs.
Archive for March, 2016
A collection of bits and bobs which I couldn't (or couldn't be arsed to) expand into whole posts…
I've been on something of a black-and-white war-films kick, the last few days. Mostly British naval movies, and mostly the usual fare; In Which We Serve, The Cruel Sea and so on. Which I wouldn't think worth mentioning, except for a couple I feel are worth recommending to anyone who hasn't seen them. Sink The Bismarck! (1960) [YouTube], of which, Wikipedia quite rightly points out that, "To date, it is the only film made that deals directly with the operations, chase and sinking of the battleship Bismarck by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Although war films were common in the 1960s, Sink The Bismarck! was seen as something of an anomaly, with much of its time devoted to the 'unsung back-room planners as much as on the combatants themselves.' Its historical accuracy, in particular, met with much praise despite a number of inconsistencies." And San Demetrio London (1943) [YouTube], which is based on the true story of the MV San Demetrio, and deals with the too-often neglected Merchant Navy's part in The Battle Of The Atlantic, although via an atypical case.
Written by Anne Finch sometime around 1660–70 and published in the early eighteenth century, does any of this seem eerily familiar…?
"I've balanced the household bills,
Employing austerity's bitter pill.
From the roof I've sold the slates,
And from the kitchen, all of the plates.
The coats no longer hang in the hall,
There's no more pictures on the wall,
The light-bulbs are gone, the cupboards are bare,
There's no window-glass nor rail on the stair.
I sold the telly and pawned the phone.
The kids are starved to bags of bone.
The house ain't fit to live in now,
But what really matters; I've kept my vow.
To do what I promised I did what it took—
By George, I've balanced the books."
Here, Gentle Reader, is a small miracle for you to ponder. Jesus, somehow, managed to die on a day whose anniversary changes from one year to the next. Since this would seem, on the face of it, to be completely impossible, it must—must it not?—be a bona fide miracle.
Hallelujah, this is the evidence I have long been seeking, and I have seen the light!
Or possibly not.
Anyways, this post isn't really about Good Friday. Or rather it is, but only in a tangential kind of way. One of my many (rather petty) grievances with culture is the way it treats history as if only three hundred and sixty-five notable things have ever happened. On November the 22nd, Kennedy was killed. On November the 5th Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the king and Parliament (and I'm still not sure whether we're celebrating his failure or lamenting it when we gather with our tooth-breaking toffee and our damp fireworks). May the 8th: victory in Europe. July the 20th: Armstrong planted his 91⁄2B into the soil of the Sea of Tranquillity. December the 25th: a woman named Mary gave birth to a child conceived in an adulterous relationship with the creator of the universe. And so on.
There's bombs in Belgium, the NHS is being slowly sold off to the highest bidder, the welfare state is being gradually dismantled, and Cameron wants to hand the state school system to a bunch of profiteers, religious nutcases and McCorporations…. Gentle Reader, I simply cannot bring myself to look at the news today. So here's one of Mark Steel's excellent comedic lectures, instead.
Some time back, the British Humanist Association and the Fair Admissions Campaign produced a report, since acknowledged by the Department for Education to be true, showing that a huge majority of religiously selective schools in England are breaking the law in their selection process.
The full report [pdf] is worth reading, but the BHA thoughtfully hit the high spots: