• Before posting anything about COVID-19, READ THIS FIRST! COVID-19 and Misinformation (UPDATED)
    Misinformation and/or conspiracy theories about this topic, even if intended as humor, will not be tolerated!

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
5,215
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
FCO_TAT_SYRP907_-00_Tate-and-Lyles-Golden-Syrup-Tin-2lb-907g-1.jpg

Who else remembers those Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup tins? Despite being unspeakably politically-incorrect (right-wing Tories, former slave owners, etc) those tins are hardly ecologically sound.

And yet ... and yet ...

Mum's syrup pud, with lashings of syrup on top. And even, on occasion, evaporated milk! [The flash-backs of a post-War childhood.]

It was the motto that got me. One of those cultural triggers that Made Me The Man that I Am. Years as a choir boy (better believe it!) meant interminable sermons and needed diversion. I had a choice: Hymns A&M, the prayerbook and a King James Bible — like Louis MacNeice I was born to the Anglican order. Somehow I found it: Book of Judges, 14.14.

That introductory waffle out of the way, what remains is a vote of thanks. I'm currently having problems with a couple of highly-recommended literary novels. I'm sure they must be very worthy, will win prizes ... it's just that they don't grab me.

Then, thanks to another thread here on p.ie, CatullusV threw up the memory of how Gerald Ford became President. Ah, yes!

For that's when the world was younger, and folk of my bent were hooked on the Decline and Fall of Richard Nixon.

Which ties in with Spielberg's The Post (recently on terrestrial TV, but also as an .mp4 on my hard-drive). Meryl Streep, a tormented Kay Graham (owner of the Washington Post) and Tom Hanks as her editor, Ben Bradlee. The movie ends with a nod to All the President's Men and the discovery of the Watergate burglars.

I should have a copy of the Woodward and Bernstein text. That's probably on the shelf of The Pert Young Piece. But I do have the Woodward and Bernstein follow-up, in a 1976 hardback, The Final Days.

So, thanks to p.ie and CatullusV, that's my bedtime reading. Good poke, chaps.

And a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere and to everyone else out there, what was your best political read? Fact or fiction.
 

Barroso

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 1, 2011
Messages
6,228
The City & the City. China Miéville
About a city where two ethnic groups live interspersed among one another, with all contact between the groups absolutely forbidden. Apparently somewhere in the Balkans, but it could be a lot closer to home.
 

between the bridges

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
46,433
Thon syrup was great on cornflakes...

remember this...

3bc3be02e64d4c1f70fff7f3cbe5b813229ba9a3.jpg
 

Emily Davison

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
34,929
Malcom never fear, some of us heathens love golden syrup to this day.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
5,215
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Thon syrup was great on cornflakes...

remember this...

3bc3be02e64d4c1f70fff7f3cbe5b813229ba9a3.jpg
Indeed I do. And I'm delighted to see you using the politically-incorrect Ur-version, before the Indian wallah was allowed to seat himself in the Sahib's presence.

But it was the 'big bottle labels have small bottle labels, and so ad infinitum' that tormented my imagination. Which I blogged upon quite recently.
 

Lumpy Talbot

Well-known member
Top Poster Of Month
Joined
Jun 30, 2015
Messages
36,634
Twitter
No
FCO_TAT_SYRP907_-00_Tate-and-Lyles-Golden-Syrup-Tin-2lb-907g-1.jpg

Who else remembers those Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup tins? Despite being unspeakably politically-incorrect (right-wing Tories, former slave owners, etc) those tins are hardly ecologically sound.

And yet ... and yet ...

Mum's syrup pud, with lashings of syrup on top. And even, on occasion, evaporated milk! [The flash-backs of a post-War childhood.]

It was the motto that got me. One of those cultural triggers that Made Me The Man that I Am. Years as a choir boy (better believe it!) meant interminable sermons and needed diversion. I had a choice: Hymns A&M, the prayerbook and a King James Bible — like Louis MacNeice I was born to the Anglican order. Somehow I found it: Book of Judges, 14.14.

That introductory waffle out of the way, what remains is a vote of thanks. I'm currently having problems with a couple of highly-recommended literary novels. I'm sure they must be very worthy, will win prizes ... it's just that they don't grab me.

Then, thanks to another thread here on p.ie, CatullusV threw up the memory of how Gerald Ford became President. Ah, yes!

For that's when the world was younger, and folk of my bent were hooked on the Decline and Fall of Richard Nixon.

Which ties in with Spielberg's The Post (recently on terrestrial TV, but also as an .mp4 on my hard-drive). Meryl Streep, a tormented Kay Graham (owner of the Washington Post) and Tom Hanks as her editor, Ben Bradlee. The movie ends with a nod to All the President's Men and the discovery of the Watergate burglars.

I should have a copy of the Woodward and Bernstein text. That's probably on the shelf of The Pert Young Piece. But I do have the Woodward and Bernstein follow-up, in a 1976 hardback, The Final Days.

So, thanks to p.ie and CatullusV, that's my bedtime reading. Good poke, chaps.

And a big hello to all intelligent lifeforms everywhere and to everyone else out there, what was your best political read? Fact or fiction.
I'm glad you were being generous with your 'fact or fiction' categories, Malcolm. I'd have to nominate Gore Vidal's Essays, to 1975. I'd put those and his excellent riffs on American political history with Lincoln, Burr etc together as a political education on the United States in a critical political period. An incredible writer, a great wielder of the deadly throwaway line, acerbic, and a real Plato style effort at a state of the nation oeuvre. He doesn't fit snugly into the category of historian or writer of fiction but somewhere between the two. And with his aristocratic US political family connections and credentials he was very much a voice in the wilderness from the class he emerged from, the F Scott Fitzgerald east coast of the Hamptons and Washington.

Under-rated, prophetic and much more reliably accurate I think as a journalist in the fine tradition of Mencken of the Baltimore Sun, only better educated.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
5,215
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
I'm glad you were being generous with your 'fact or fiction' categories, Malcolm. I'd have to nominate Gore Vidal's Essays, to 1975. I'd put those and his excellent riffs on American political history with Lincoln, Burr etc together as a political education on the United States in a critical political period. An incredible writer, a great wielder of the deadly throwaway line, acerbic, and a real Plato style effort at a state of the nation oeuvre. He doesn't fit snugly into the category of historian or writer of fiction but somewhere between the two. And with his aristocratic US political family connections and credentials he was very much a voice in the wilderness from the class he emerged from, the F Scott Fitzgerald east coast of the Hamptons and Washington.

Under-rated, prophetic and much more reliably accurate I think as a journalist in the fine tradition of Mencken of the Baltimore Sun, only better educated.
I'm with you on Gore Vidal. Anyone who got under the skin of Norman Mailer has to be on the side of the angels. The Narratives of Empire sequence is a magnificent achievement.

Vidal was in London — I think for his last visit — and was interviewed by James Naughtie (BBC Bookclub, September 2008) in a basement room of Bush House. Somehow I got a ticket, to see the great man in all his arrogance.

Two political novels with local connections:
  • Howard Spring's Fame is the Spur (1940) drifts in and out of print. It's both a romantic account and a satire of the Labour Party's more ambitious thrusters. The local connection is that Spring was of second-generation Corkonian emigré stock, worked himself up from being an errand boy in Manchester, to a journalist job on the Manchester Guardian, before 'retiring' to write in Cornwall.
  • Thomas Flanagan's The Year of the French (1979?). Say no more.
As a generalisation, I'm on the point of proposing that any novel with Irish history as a plot is by definition 'political'.
 

between the bridges

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
46,433
Indeed I do. And I'm delighted to see you using the politically-incorrect Ur-version, before the Indian wallah was allowed to seat himself in the Sahib's presence.

But it was the 'big bottle labels have small bottle labels, and so ad infinitum' that tormented my imagination. Which I blogged upon quite recently.
Didn't realise it was only 4% coffee! Think I was near addicted to the stuff as a kid ( never was a Tae drinker)
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
5,215
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Didn't realise it was only 4% coffee! Think I was near addicted to the stuff as a kid ( never was a Tae drinker)
That 4% was probably there only to validate the dubious claim on the label — the UK didn't get the Trades Descriptions Act until 1963.

My pre-adolescence was in East Anglia, heavily populated by the post-WW2 USAAF army of occupation — despite the claim by David Reynolds, that didn't end in 1945. Only through my parents' acquaintances from RAF Sculthorpe (then the biggest USAF nuke base in Britain) did I experience real coffee. After ersatz Camp chicory essence, the proper stuff was an acquired taste. Fortunately, later there were coffee bars, folk clubs and occasional female company (and Bewley's) to develop the addiction(s).
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,792
Taking advantage of Malcolm’s liberalisation of this thread I’d like to suggest a bestseller with a particular international influence and an interesting Irish connection. I’m not putting this out there as the best political work of fiction.....

The Third World War: August 1985, by General Sir John Hackett.

The Third World War: August 1985: Amazon.co.uk: Hackett, John: 9780425101926: Books

Written in 1978, this book sets out a scenario of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe using conventional weapons, with a subsequent limited nuclear exchange, goodbye Birmingham and Minsk, followed by the political disintegration of the Soviet Union. It was the product of debate within NATO as to whether it was better or not to enhance conventional capability or to focus primarily of nuclear weaponry. Hackett was of he opinion that better conventional capability would both deter conventional attack and in the event of attack allow more flexibility in response(rather than being primarily reliant on a nuclear response). This was a work for the mass market, it sold over 3 million copies and was printed in 10 languages. It was also respected within the military and political leadership of NATO at the time. Senior officers, serving and retired, in the British, American and German militaries were involved in its publication. The deputy editor of the Economist helped Hackett in working through the wider political contexts. James Callaghan gave a copy of it to Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan listed it as one of the top three books he had read in 1983(an updated edition). Whilst the book didn’t achieve what Hackett advocated....a significant upgrading of NATO’s conventional forces, it probably did help to prevent any further weakening versus WARPAC.
It also inspired various other works, such as Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising.

The Irish connection? General Sir John Hackett(nicknamed Shan) was born in Australia. His father was Irish with an Old English ancestry that traces(via Person Page ) all the way back to circa 1210 when “He accompanied King John to Ireland and acquired large properties in County Tipperary.” General Hackett military career started in 1933 when he joined the 8th (King’s Royal Irish) Hussars. During WW2 he served in Syria, North Africa, Italy, NW Europe. He was involved in the establishment of special forces in North Africa, notably the Long Range Desert Group, the SAS and Popski’s Private Army. He was wounded at least 4 times, lastly as commander of the 4th Parachute Brigade at Arnhem(another one of Malcolm’s pearls in the wilderness Anthony Beevor: Arnhem). After being captured at Arnhem he escaped from hospital and was hidden by a Dutch family until feb 1945. After the war he continued his service, he was General Officer Commanding in Northern Ireland in the early 1960s and then commander of the British Army of the Rhine until his retirement in 1968. He then was principle of Kings College London. His wife was Austrian, widow of a German. She married Hackett in Jerusalem in 1942. In the early 1970s he was in some controversy when he advocated talks with the IRA. He lived for a time(beginning mid 1970s but I don’t know how long for) near Ardara, close to Killybegs. Interesting that he lived there untroubled at about the same time as Mountbatten....perhaps his Irish ancestry or his advocacy of talks helped in that.

The the revised (1983) edition of the book he has an entire, somewhat far fetched, chapter devoted to Ireland. Ireland as part of a loose confederation(IONA - Islands of the North Atlantic) and in military alliance with a France(at the time semi detached from NATO) gets drawn into the conflict.

The Third World War: The Untold Story - Wikipedia
 

Nebuchadnezzar

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2011
Messages
11,792
Last edited:
Last edited:
The unfortunate dead lion of the OP was killed by Samson in hand to claw combat.

Here’s Gustave Doré’s woodcut of the scene....

OT-062.jpg


.....not quiet up to the standard of his superb illustrations for Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Below, the Samson Seal, is probably the earliest known depiction of Samson and the Lion.

Evidence-for-story-of-Samson-and-the-lion.jpg


It was discovered in 2012 and it dates from the 12th century BC which places it contemporaneously with the time period that the Bible’s Book of Judges deals with. It was unearthed at Beth Shemesh which is located between the biblical cities of Zorah and Eshtaol where Judges says Samson was born, flourished and was finally buried.

“While the seal does not reveal when the stories about Samson were originally written, or clarify whether Samson was a historical or legendary figure, the finding does help to "anchor the story in an archaeological setting," says Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz of TAU's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations. Prof. Bunimovitz co-directs the Beth Shemesh dig along with Dr. Zvi Lederman.”

Samson probably overlaps with the Greek lion killer Heracles(or Hercules for the Romans amongst us)....and perhaps both back to the first reputed lion killer Gilgamesh.

Ancient seal may add substance to the legend of Samson
 

Lumpy Talbot

Well-known member
Top Poster Of Month
Joined
Jun 30, 2015
Messages
36,634
Twitter
No
Last edited:
Last edited:
One has to be careful of Israeli archaeologists. They've been on a national mission to find anything, any artifacts at all which could lend weight to their view of history in the region- for which there isn't much evidence.

At least once or twice a year they come up with some hopeful punt which appears to lend veracity to a biblical or Torah scroll version of history. There is a real problem there in that there is no evidence whatsoever of a 'Davidian' Kingdom as the Israelis and their current political stance insists, for self-interested reasons.

Archaeology itself began as a science in a very dodgy scenario. The early European archaeologists were funded by xtian groups to try to find evidence of Noah's Ark, old testament stories, the life of mr jesus and various other claimed events which came from religious scrolls and their creation myths. They spent most of their time trying to match up biblical stories with reality and trying for a long time to find any evidence for any of these events. They never do, inevitably.

But the Israeli Universities and their archaeological teams are stuck in a time-warp, especially where Israeli Antiquities authorities are hanging around in the background. It is almost Soviet in its insistence on a particular view of history which supports their 'manifest destiny' approach to politics in the region today. They need to keep their own more doubtful citizens on board with project Greater Israel (to include Damascus) and for that they need to keep propping up the notions of a Davidian Kingdom in schools and in academic circles although the entire profession worldwide knows they regularly try to link Torah stories to pottery shards or pieces carved or shaped by other peoples from the period and claiming evidence for a Kingdom which only existed insofar as Prester John did.

Doesn't stop the pumped out pseudo articles on discoveries which are always phrased as 'could' prove a link to some biblical event or other but never in the end do. The stories usually fade away after the initial splash in the summer silly seasons usually as such stories help fill a newspaper.

Judaism has long held that artworks and imagery are a vanity before Yahweh, going back itself to the Moses story when he went on leave mountain hiking and came back to find everyone worshipping a graven image of a fatted calf, and lost his holy sh*t over it. So you wouldn't expect a lot in terms of artwork and famously Judaism has produced no great artists, as a possible offshoot of that psychology in their society.

So one would want to be cautious of imagery and symbolism finds as artwork and ascribing them to Israeli past history because it would be counter-intuitive in a people that didn't approve of images or representations of creation myth in relation to their religious convictions. Never stops certain Israeli Universities and their academics from punting some archaeological find of dubious merit in support of their insistence on a particular version of history in the region.

No one can challenge this much because obviously it is a great way to find yourself painted as 'antisemitic' by Big Brother.
 

recedite

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 20, 2010
Messages
4,137
The unfortunate dead lion of the OP was killed by Samson in hand to claw combat.

Here’s Gustave Doré’s woodcut of the scene....



.....not quiet up to the standard of his superb illustrations for Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Below, the Samson Seal, is probably the earliest known depiction of Samson and the Lion.

Evidence-for-story-of-Samson-and-the-lion.jpg
Not a great result, even for techniques of the day!
It just shows that anywhere humans and lions co-existed, humans were scared shitless of them. Hence the ridiculously optimistic, but enduring legend of the human hero who killed one with his bare hands.
I unslept in a tent in Kenya once, listening to lions roaring somewhere in the vicinity, out there in the darkness. Absolutely terrifying.
 

CatullusV

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
9,056
The question posed by the OP is difficult. I have, being a politics wonk, spent a great deal of my reading life reading histories, biographies, war accounts etc. An oddity about my reading list is that I simply no longer have the ability to read fiction with any degree of engagement.

One particular book stands out for me: "Gladstone: A Biography", written by Roy Jenkins. Jenkins is a fine writer, writing on a complex subject. He had a classic and bitter rivalry with Disraeli; he was not popular with Queen Victoria; he was an ardent Christian, who visited prostitutes in order to dissuade them from their live of sin - and would then avail of their services (his diary entry that night would contain three or more symbols showing how many times he had self-flaggelated in his remorse).

As a Liberal, he was operating when small-c conservatism was hardening. No servant should see the piano leg being the common parody of the time. But times were changing.

He is a fascinating study and Jenkins does him full justice.

If I had to recommend one book alone, that would be it.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
5,215
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
"Gladstone: A Biography", written by Roy Jenkins. Jenkins is a fine writer, writing on a complex subject.
Just reached out my PB copy, from 1995: 'slightly foxed'.

Find a flyer used as a page marker: Amnesty concert featuring Pipeline & Seldom. 17th July. Great Hall. 20p (all money to Amnesty)

Wonder what that was about.

See I had that one sandwiched between Philip Magnus on Gladstone and Hobsbawm's Uncommon People. Bookshelves make for strange bed-fellows.

Good writer, good man, 'Woy' — but he could go on a bit.

I have a lurking suspicion that books are animate: they seem to migrate, playing hide-and-seek from shelf to shelf, to frustrate me. Perhaps they talk to each other, once I'm out of hearing. In which case, this lot as re-shelved are going to be quite fractious ...

Shelf2.jpg
 

Malcolm Redfellow

Moderator
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
5,215
Website
redfellow.blogspot.com
Twitter
mredfellow
Israeli Universities and their archaeological teams are stuck in a time-warp, especially where Israeli Antiquities authorities are hanging around in the background. It is almost Soviet in its insistence on a particular view of history which supports their 'manifest destiny' approach to politics in the region today.
Strange activity, archaeology. Somewhere between messing about in holes, and deductive reasoning. Wouldn't be without it, though.

Have to admit I sympathise with Lumpy Talbot there: any cross-over between political mythology and wannabe-science is potentially dangerous (Cf: many things Arthurian). Biblical stuff, moreover, sucks in money from US foundations and those odd 'universities' with a fundamentalist bent.

A large proportion of 'Dead Sea Scrolls' in the wild turn out to be forgeries.
 

CatullusV

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 9, 2018
Messages
9,056
There is another genre which I find of interest: that of sports books - particularly books on cricket.

Fear not. I am not talking of the "I felt a twinge in my hamstring, but the Gaffer insisted I play and I pulled up in the first over" stuff.

There is plenty of that crap around - usually written by cricketers justifiably squeezing the last bit of juice from a career which ends in their 30s.

Cricket at the highest level involves a lot of travel for extended periods, lots of times in hotel rooms and, even during a match, lots of time when you are not in the match itself bit maybe spending a day or more watching your teammates bat. Lots of time for introspection. Maybe that is why so many cricketers die by their own hand. Playing against Ireland today is a wicketkeeper/batsman whose father also played for England. He hung himself.

But there are others who turn to writing.they do not merely describe a simple timeline of events and matches. They contextualize them. I'm thinking of people such as Michael Atherton or Vic Marks. Atherton, in particular, is a particularly intelligent writer.

All of this gets me to a wonderful book, nominally about cricket: Derek Birley's "A Social History of English Cricket". You don't need to know cricket to enjoy it. What it becomes is a stroll through time, with cricket as its common thread in a narrative which shows how cricket and society in england changed, along with the impact both had on each other; how amateurism became shamateurism, then professionalism. It is a superb piece of work and research.

A story from it: until the 60s there was a distinction between professionals and amateurs. The latter were called "Gentlemen", the former called "Players". The two did not share dressing rooms. This resulted in a bizarre tannoy announcement at a county match played by Middlesex. They had a professional called Fred Titmus (later immortalised by the band Half Man Half Biscuit). The announcement was to those who had bought printed score cards to complete during the day: "To those who bought scorecards, for 'F J Titmus esq', please read 'Titmus F J'."

The book is worth a read and might not come within your radar normally.
 

Lumpy Talbot

Well-known member
Top Poster Of Month
Joined
Jun 30, 2015
Messages
36,634
Twitter
No
The question posed by the OP is difficult. I have, being a politics wonk, spent a great deal of my reading life reading histories, biographies, war accounts etc. An oddity about my reading list is that I simply no longer have the ability to read fiction with any degree of engagement.

One particular book stands out for me: "Gladstone: A Biography", written by Roy Jenkins. Jenkins is a fine writer, writing on a complex subject. He had a classic and bitter rivalry with Disraeli; he was not popular with Queen Victoria; he was an ardent Christian, who visited prostitutes in order to dissuade them from their live of sin - and would then avail of their services (his diary entry that night would contain three or more symbols showing how many times he had self-flaggelated in his remorse).

As a Liberal, he was operating when small-c conservatism was hardening. No servant should see the piano leg being the common parody of the time. But times were changing.

He is a fascinating study and Jenkins does him full justice.

If I had to recommend one book alone, that would be it.
Roy Jenkins' 'Churchill' is also a notably fine run at the man and the myths. Won 'History Book of the Year' I think.
 

New Threads

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top Bottom