Saturday, 26 January 2019

Lies my teachers told me (2), or the cruelty of the British Empire

Of course they only taught us of the glories of the British Empire. 

Clive of India Cecil Rhodes and others were the heroes;  the British were utterly pure in the so-called Boer War, etc., etc., etc.  Oh the wonders of all that pink on world maps.  

It was all very seductive:  "Land of hope and glory, mother of the free .... God who made thee mighty, make the mightier yet".

"Mother of the free?"  - says who?  In truth the Empire was nothing short of disastrous for the indigenous peoples of North America, Africa, South Asia and Australia.

(Yes, yes, I know that the Ottoman, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, French and Belgian Empires were horrid. But we English school children were led to believe that our Empire, unlike the others,  was unimpeachably just, fair and enlightened)

Today (26th January 2019) happens to be AUSTRALIA DAY, a national holiday for some Australians, a celebration of the English "discovery" and colonisation of the continent.

But not for all.  How could something be discovered as "Terra Nullius" (** see below)  when the indigenous peoples had been there for 60,000 or more years.  Was their land "just for the taking"?

There is a lively and often bitter debate about this in Australia to this day.  There are those who assert that the day is not about the discovery  of Australia, but about the invasion of that land. by the English/British.

They believe that it should be commemorated as INVASION DAY, not AUSTRALIA DAY.

As one who is fiercely anti-colonialist I am with them!  Empire building and colonisation has wrought unimaginable disaster for many of the world's peoples. What ticks me off is that my teachers said that the British Empire had brought only unparalleled benefits.

In due course I will say more about the English colonisation of Wales and Scotland, and the Scots/English colonisation of Ireland.  

My thoughts today are focused on Australia because it is their Australia or Invasion commemoration day.

via my Australian friend Nicole E.


** P.S.  The dangerous myth of Terra Nullius

Oh so good!

Thursday, 24 January 2019

News quiz

Which European City has the largest Muslim population.


What is your guess?

It's none of the above.

There you have it.  MOSCOW  with more than one million Muslims.


Mr. S. Enders Wimbush at a Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning (SILL)  in Sarasota today (24th Jan 2019)

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Lies my teachers taught me (1)

British Empire at its peak

I was born in 1944 and began my formal schooling in 1949.  My first years concentrated on the three R's, at which I was very good.

I entered what Americans would call "High School" in 1955 and entered into the wider world of history, geography, English language and literature, Latin and French, and the sciences.

The prevailing message in the arts courses was that the British Empire was  the greatest and most beneficent in human history.

The greatest?  In territorial terms the Empire was at its peak at the end of WWI when Tanganyika was ceded by Germany as a colony, and Namibia as a protectorate (under the thumb of the then Union of South Africa).

In 1948 the "Jewel of  the Crown"  of India became an independent nation.

Thus the territorial greatness of Empire endured for about 30 years. 

Set that along the Roman and Ottoman Empires and it is puny indeed.

The greatest in terms of munificence?  Not in my book despite what my teachers said. 

More about that  soon.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Unanticipated money.

Oh wow!  I received this check/cheque from MEDICARE today.

I had evidently overpaid them in 2018.

I seek your advice

1)  Should I splurge and purchase half a candy bar?

2) Should I save this for a rainy day?

3) Should I tear this cheque/check up and add sixty nine cents to the Medicare Trust Fund?

Monday, 21 January 2019

The sad and the sweet

The sad:

Yet another stray dog, this time wandering around Glen Oaks Manor here in Sarasota.

He was a handsome beast maybe a Boxer mix

Stock photo'
who seemed to be in good health.  He was friendly enough, so Zion and he were able to greet each other.  But he did not have a collar, so I could not grab him, and I was not carrying my mobile 'phone.

Meanwhile,  one dumb person grabbed a stick to beat him if he drew near.  Another called out "should I call Animal Services?"  

My snarky side wanted to say "No, call Macy's Departmental Store"  but I resisted the temptation. 

This lovely stray then ran off. 

Nearer to my home a neighbour stopped as she was driving by, to say Hi.

I told her about the stray and she told me that she had just seen him on (North) Beneva Ave.  Oh no!  That's a very busy road.

I get very sentimental about strays.  That's certainly because the ever wonderful ZION was a stray who was found wandering in Lafayette, Louisiana.  He was mercifully transported from a kill shelter there to our local no kill shelter.

The rest is history.  Just over a year ago he became my BCF (Best Canine Friend),  but I sometimes get very sad as I think of  Zion  wandering the streets of Lafayette, all alone, and probably very scared.


The Sweet.

Yesterday (Sunday 20th) saw me at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall here in SRQ for a matinĂ©e concert with the "pretty darn good"
Sarasota Symphony.

On the way in to the Van Wezel, all by accident,  I encountered my dog walking acquaintance Joshua.

He is the principal Horn player for the Sarasota Orchestra and comes across as a very fine man.  We greeted each other warmly.

First there was a Verdi Overture (La Forza del Destino), and then Beethoven's Piano Concerto # 1 with world renowned pianist Emmanuel Ax.

Stock photo'

What a blast to be in a town which can attract world famous musicians!

I know the Concerto very well, but this was my first live performance.  It was sublime, just like meeting an old friend who you have admired at a distance but never met in person.

The frosting on the cake was that I was with the always estimable Ann Albritton, member of St. Boniface Church and Professor of Modern Art at the Ringling College of Art and Design.  She is good news personified.

At the intermission she ventured that the Beethoven was utterly superb that she wanted to skip the second half of the Concert  (Prokofiev's Symphony # 5 ) lest it blot out the Beethoven from her soul.

I was "with her", so we came back to my home, nursed a glass of Malbec, nibbled on Cashews, and enjoyed each other's company and conversation to the max.  Wonderful!

Ann will retire this year and move away from Sarasota. Utterly good for her, but tenderly sad for her Sarasota friends.

Ann Albritton


Next month I'll be at the Asolo Rep. Theatre to see Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" with my friends Donna Chrisman and Ashley Lloyd (mother/daughter).

This retirement gig ain't half bad!