I received this link by e-mail from one of my Anglospheric contacts in the United States. It is a historically changing map or Australia. Great fun and, dare I suggest it, something children who are learning history might enjoy playing with.
Tory Historian maintains that the American Thanksgiving celebration ought to be an Anglospheric fesitivity. It grew out of the Harvest festivals of this country (and many others) and there is no getting away from the fact that many of the ideas the Pilgrim Fathers carried with them to the new land were those of England and became the seeds of Anglospherism.
Let us not push it too far but celebrate the day with the somewhat anachronistic picture above and a quotation from the editorial that the Wall Street Journal publishes every year, which is a version of the records kept by Nathaniel Morton and based on the account by William Bradley, governor of the Plymouth Colony.
Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, full of wilde beasts and wilde men? and what multitudes of them there were, they then knew not: for which way soever they turned their eyes (save upward to Heaven) they could have but little solace or content in respect of any outward object; for summer being ended, all things stand in appearance with a weatherbeaten face, and the whole country, full of woods and thickets, represented a wild and savage hew.It was merely the beginning.
If they looked behind them, there was a mighty ocean which they had passed, and was now as a main bar or gulph to separate them from all the civil parts of the world.
It is not often that I do more on this blog than make announcements, mostly about the Journal (and yes, I am looking for articles, preferably very soon and, if possible, about the Anglosphere) but I was present at Jonathan Aitken's talk and was greatly intrigued by one or two things he said.
Mr Aitken told a number of highly entertaining stories, including one about a dinner at which there were present former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, former President Richard Nixon, Marcia Falkender (Baroness Falkender or Forkbender as Private Eye used to call her) and Mr Aitken himself.
The highlight of the dinner was, apparently, the two politicians singing, as a duet, Sir Joseph Porter's song from HMS Pinafore, "When I was a lad..". Clearly a dinner to remember.
Mr Aitken spoke at length about being a speechwriter (that being one half of the advertised title) and how seriously he took his duties when he wrote speeches for John Selwyn Lloyd, Chancellor of the Exchequer, political fixer and, later, Foreign Secretary.
Being a speechwriter is not easy, as one has to produce speeches that sound as if the person who is saying them wrote them himself (or herself, Margaret Thatcher famously went over her speeches many times, changing them and honing them till they became her own). The young Mr Aitken consulted the man who was then and probably until now the greatest speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, who worked for JFK.
The point Mr Aitken was making is that a speechwriter has to get into the speech-maker's head and that is what Ted Sorensen maintained he did. In question time I asked whether the movement was only one way or whether the speechwriter also shaped the speech-maker.
Mr Aitken thought about it and agreed that there was a great deal of it. For instance, JFK was not a particularly eloquent personality though he had a dry wit, whose flavour his speech writers managed to capture. But the great orator with vision and ideas was largely created by Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger.
The whole concept is fascinating. I see it as something like the famous Escher drawing of one hand drawing the other, which is drawing the first, the two in slightly different positions.
This evening's meeting of the Conservative History Group will take place in the Wilson Room, not the Thatcher Room. Don't know what the speaker, Jonathan Aitken, will think of that.
The Wilson Room is in Portcullis House and the meeting will start at 6.30 pm. The title of Jonathan Aitken's talk will be: "Confessions of an old speech-writer and speechmaker". Should be very interesting and entertaining.
It has been suggested once to Tory Historian that, perhaps, another time and day should now be chosen for Remembrance as this time and day are too closely connected with the First World War. Naturally, Tory Historian disagreed. If there is no need to change there is every need not to change and the words "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" have come to mean much more than just the ending of that terrible conflict.
Having listened to the prayers led by the Bishop of London and the other parts of the ceremony by the Cenotaph Tory Historian remains certain that this is the time we must dedicate to remembering the sacrifices made and being made by so many on our behalf.
As ever, there are excerpts from two poems to be quoted. The first is by the Canadian medical officer John McCrae, who wrote the poem in 1915 and died of pneumonia towards the end of the war. It is odd to recall that more people of influenza in 1918 throughout the world than were killed in the Great War, terrible though the casualties were.
In fact, the Second World War was the first war in history in which direct casualties were higher than those of attendant and subsequent illness. Whether that is a reflection on medical or military developments remains to be an open question.
In Flanders fields the poppies blowFor personal reasons Tory Historian finds Lawrence Binyon's lines particularly moving:
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard beneath the guns below.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.We should never forget them but this is the time we really remember.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Tory Historian has already attended a bonfire and fireworks event and can report with some disgust that there was no Guy on the fire. This is a relatively new development as for many years this particular bonfire did have a Guy and one year the fireworks culminated in a picture of Guido Fawkes himself slowly disappearing.
Why so many of these events have abandoned any historical link to the festivities is a mystery. Some people consider it to be the result of political correctness.
Tory Historian thinks it has more to do with the curious development that is unique to Britain whereby all celebrations, all entertainments have been separated or are being separated from their meaning, historical, social or simply seasonal.
This does not work with the celebrations that the various ethnic minorities have, no matter how hard people like Mayor Livingstone try but otherwise it has taken hold. Nothing needs to have a reason any more.
There is nothing like this anywhere in the world, not in Europe, not in Asia, not in America; developed and industrial countries retain their knowledge of history and traditions. Why is Britain the exception? Why are people satisfied with amusing themselve to death?
Then again, the tale of the Catholic Plot, the attempted terrorist outrage, the arrest of the plotters, their torture, confession and horrific execution is a strange and grisly event to celebrate.
Remember, remember,And there is no reason. Grisly and unpleasant but part of our history.
The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.