"Henry John Patch would be notable simply by virtue of his 109 years on earth... But Harry Patch is more than a gerontological phenomenon. The man arranging his medals and sitting up straight for a photograph in the conservatory of a nursing home in Wells is the last British man alive to have served in the trenches during the First World War."
I was a fanatic...I know their thinking. If a British former muslim jihadist is to be believed, "the engine of [their] violence" is not western foreign policy, but certain fundamental tenets of islamic theology. Hassan Butt's previous MeFi appearance was two years ago (before he left the jihadist network in February 2006). Also, a video and transcript of a 60 Minutes interview.
The UK media is like a "Feral Beast", and is undermining Britain, says Tony Blair. Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent, responds. Some reasons why Blair might not be too keen on the press.
David Oluwale arrived in Britain in 1949, one of many African immigrants. By the close of 1969, he was dead. Two years later, two police officers were charged with his murder, although they got away almost scot-free despite a massive amount of evidence against them. Although it caused a national scandal at the time, more because of police malpractice than racism, Oluwale's sad story has been forgotten since (apart from a play, written by Jeremy Sandford, a few years later). However, it deserves to be remembered not just because of a tragic and unnecessary death, but because it was the first recorded death of a British black person as a result of police racism. A new book, Nationality: Wog, The Hounding of David Oluwale is helping bring Oluwale's plight back into public consciousness. Via the BBC's Thinking Allowed.
The British Olympic Committee unveiled the logo and branding for London 2012 today, at a cost of £400,000 (USD796,000). Reaction has been swift - a petition to change the logo or go back to the old one has already reached 10,000 signatures.
Do you want to look hard but can't stand the needle? Detachable Tattoo Sleeves are the answer. Unfortunately, small is out of stock at the moment.
Gutterfighting - any means, fair or foul, to save your life. Including The Kengla/Styers Short-End Technique. [tip o' the hat to Warren Leonhardt's 007 post] [related]
George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house. With CCTV. Perhaps the Surveillance Camera Players could put on a performance there. It looks like Britain really is becoming a surveillance society. [Via Digg.]
In Britain: Upper class, Upper middle class, Middle class, Lower middle class, Working class. An American on class.
BBC News: "Gee, I just love your accent." The American nation may be more wary of crossing borders, but their love affair with the British accent continues unabated. Despite the fact that there are multiple variants therein, and what may be considered a "low-class" accent in the UK is still considered a "high-class" posh accent in the US. Naturally, the Brits will play this up to the hilt - and it may help in getting them jobs, credibility, Oscars and Emmys, by no less an authority than Stephen Fry.
Studies in Scarlet: Marriage & Sexuality in the US & UK, 1815-1914, courtesy of Harvard University, features digitized trial narratives for over 400 cases--some famous, most not. (Harvard also has a more general collection of trial narratives here.) There are earlier trial narratives at Rictor Norton's Homosexuality in Eighteenth Century England: A Sourcebook and Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports; see also CrimeCulture's Rogue's Gallery and a Victorian anthology, Curiosities of Street Literature (originally published in 1871). Albert Borowitz has a brief history of true crime narratives here. For more historical criminality from the investigator's point of view, check out the Forensic Medicine Archives Project at the University of Glasgow. (Main link via VICTORIA.)
Sorry lads - Wank Week is cancelled. Channel 4's planned series on masturbation, which would have come this month and which was to feature such illuminating documentaries as "I Can't Stop Wanking" and "Masturbation for Women" (email@example.com/tester), as well as a portrait of the UK's first masturbate-a-thon, has been pulled as a result of the recent Big Brother controversy. Would-be viewers feel stiffed and wonder why 4 is being so hard on its viewers, who are now left to entertain themselves.
30 years of thrillpower! British weekly comic 2000ad celebrates it's 30th aniversary. Previously discussed here, current Tharg Matt Smith interviewed, special birthday Prog. Splundig vur thrigg!
There's about to be an election (pdf) in the British Parliament's second chamber, the House of Lords. Not an election where the public can choose their lawmakers: that's still a matter of debate. No, one of the 92 hereditary Lords has died, and those of his party colleagues that remain get to choose another hereditary peer to take his place. So the election, in which only hereditary peers registered as Conservatives can stand, will be decided by the votes of the 47 Conservative hereditary peers still clinging to the twig. And just to make sure it's properly democratic - the vote is by proportional representation.
'Films from the Homefront' is a (new) collection of amateur documentaries, newsreels, government films, and home movies documenting life for the ordinary people in Britain during World War II, with background text descriptions/explication. Browse the themes. The films are QT and wmv format. I found it both poignant and funny, for instance, seeing kids don gasmasks during air raid drills then attempt to continue writing in their lessons. [via Glasgow School of Art Library]
James Bond eat your heart out - the name's Chapman, Eddie Chapman. A German spy who was awarded the Iron Cross and a yacht. A British spy who probably saved vast chunks of London from bombs. But above all, a conman with a penchant for "prostitutes, cognac, gambling, Savile Row tailoring and fast cars" according to his spymasters (warning - PDF). Read the book. Or the other book. Or see the biopic he reportedly didn't like. He died aged 83, in case you're wondering.
A moving, four-part audio documentary tells the story of as many as 150,000 children of the British poor, sent to populate Australia, Canada, and other colonies with "good, white stock".
The UKs Celebrity Big Brother provokes a diplomatic incident after bullying and alleged racism in the Big Brother house. At the center of the furor are Shilpa Shetty, massive bollywood film star, and Jade Goody, a previous Big Brother content famous for being a previous big brother contestant and her odd views on geography. Both Jade and Shetty are now up for eviction, with the formerly popular Jade being widely expected to be evicted. She could face trouble on the outside, where already an anti-bullying charity she represents has dropped her. Meanwhile Shetty has become favorite to win.
1956. France is losing Algeria. It’s lost Indochina. Sure, it’s culturally very productive, with Nouvelle Vague cinema at its height and existential philosophy gaining ground in the world at large. But to the nation of Napoléon and to one that preferred to emphasise the Résistance in its more recent history, that wasn't enough. What to do? Why, propose political union with Britain, of course.
Henry's Machyn's sixteenth-century Chronicle was nearly destroyed in an eighteenth-century fire, but editors Richard W. Bailey, Marilyn Miller, and Colette Moore have just published a new online scholarly edition, comprising both a reconstructed text (thanks to the very posthumous assistance of John Strype) and images of all the pages. There are several other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century diaries and chronicles online, including Dana F. Sutton's edition of William Camden's Diary (in both Latin and English), J. G. Nichols' Victorian edition of the Chronicle of the Grey Friars of London, and the Earls Colne project's transcription of the diary of clergyman Ralph Josselin. (Machyn link via the very handy Textual Studies, 1500-1800.)
The Memorial Gardens in Surrey has a pigeon problem, and has hired a marksman to come to town & conduct a three year program of pigeon sniping to resolve the issue. The people of Surrey respond, via some of the funniest letters to the newspaper I've ever read (letters published at the bottom of the article).
Rupert Bear has been given a makeover so that he'll have more appeal to today's audience. Invented by Mary Tourtel in 1920 and appearing in the Daily Express newspaper, he also stars in the Rupert Little Bear Library and in a long-running set of annuals - which also championed the art of paperfolding (origami). [more inside]
Bows and Arrows is an innovatively styled but bleak short movie. Don't make the same mistakes the Caretaker did! [via]
"I feel guilty because I have friends that are working really hard to get into television or acting and I'm just sitting here having not done anything more than enjoy playing with gadgets."
Susi Weaser (24) makes little one-minute gadget reviews and posts them on YouTube . The BBC must have liked them - because they hired her.
Susi Weaser (24) makes little one-minute gadget reviews and posts them on YouTube . The BBC must have liked them - because they hired her.
Peter Dench is a London photojournalist whose portfolio features work on some fun and quirky themes. He won the 2004 World Press Photo for his series called drinking of england. Some other series, like nudestock, are NSFW.
Now that he's left the Ministry of Defense, he wants to warn us how very concerned he is about that huge triangular UFO police and military personnel (and hundreds of civilians) witnessed flying over RAF bases in Shropshire in 1993.
The Orchestra: A User's Manual is one element of 'The Sound Exchange' by the Philharmonia Orchestra. It was conceived and written by Andrew Hugill who has also developed this online Random Round [flash] based on the work of Percy Grainger.
The Exploring 20th century London project draws on some 8000 items from the Museum of London, Transport Museum, Jewish Museum and the Museum of Croydon. Material includes photos, drawings, posters, artefacts, sound files etc. Browse/search by theme, timeline and location. [sitemap]
Penguin Books is an all too brief Flickr Photoset of Penguin Book cover designs from decades past. For those interested, this book is highly recommended.
18DoughtyStreet Talk TV - 'the home of anti-establishment TV' launches today (they do seem to have fallen a bit behind on their blog though). [trailer] The two main presenters are Tim Montgomerie and Iain Dale. Anti-establishment?
The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called for a purge of liberal and secular teachers from the country's universities. Now that this former rogue nation has fallen in line, we can turn out attention to the real terrorist threat: Britain.
After the Romans left Britain was divided into a number of Celtic kingdoms that fought with each other and, increasingly, with the Germanic invaders we know as "Anglo-Saxons." The most famous alleged defender of Celtic Britain, of course, is King Arthur, but he's more myth than history. What catches my imagination is The Gododdin (Welsh original, by Aneurin), an epic lament for the band of men who gathered at Eiddyn (Edinburgh, main town of Gododdin) around the year 600 and headed south for a last-ditch battle against the Saxons at Catraeth (probably Catterick in northern Yorkshire), where they were wiped out. One contingent was from Elmet (Elfed in the poem), a kingdom that had been holding the line against the invaders in what's now Yorkshire; once Elmet was conquered, there was no stopping them. And all of this history was basic to the poetry of David Jones, one of the best unknown poets of the previous century, and important to one of the best known, Ted Hughes (book with photos). "Men went to Catraeth, familiar with laughter. The old, the young, the strong, the weak."
The New York Times doesn't want people in Britain to read this article (try to access it from a British IP address and you'll get an error message). Of course, this is the web, stupid (scroll down to read it).
Raves not dead! The British subculture the government tried so hard to kill is alive and well in Cornwall and Essex.
Phisick - Beautifully presented historical medical instruments. Check out the French Nasal Rectificateur. Take a look these ear trumpets too: 1, 2, 3, 4. [Click on the images in the top strip for alternate views and close-ups]
Large scans of plates, largely for Robert Plot’s Natural History of Staffordshire (1686). You can view more of Burghers work here.
Love's guide to the church bells of the City of London (with sounds, peals and pictures).
90 years ago today, whistles blew around the river Somme in France as British troops prepared for an attack on German trenches. By the end of the day they had suffered 57,470 casualties. By the battle's end in November, there were over 600,000 Allied casualties, with perhaps the same number of German casualties. The Imperial War Museum has launched an online exhibition, where you can find out more about how the battle was planned, personal stories of those involved, and myths about the attack. Elsewhere you can find copies of Army reports on the first day, look at film of the attack, diaries and letters home from the troops, go on tours of the trenches, listen to contemporary songs and music inspired by the battle, and see some more modern responses.
Ever wondered what old amounts of money would be worth today? Or what you could buy with your current salary if you went back 200, 400, or 600 years? Now you can find out with a tool that converts English currency from 1270 onwards into today's prices. Based on Treasury records, it tells you that Mr Darcy's £10,000 a year would now be worth nearly £350,000, or that your house would only have to be worth the equivalent of £500 now to qualify for the vote after 1832.
Letters by Badsey Council School children describing life in a market gardening community in 1933. A great insight into their lives and some excellent penmanship to boot. [via]
Moritz Volz plays for Fulham and Germany- and he has a sense of humor.
Scott Walker has, after an 11 year break, released a new album (Statesiders will have to wait until the 23rd). If it's anything like his previous release, Tilt, I'll be more than pleased. He is also to be the subject of an upcoming documentary. [related]
Ships are so cool, except when they collide with bridges and catch on fire. [flash] You can also listen to some snappy dialogue from the USS Enterprise. [Warning: The laws in some countries may not permit you to listen these sound clips]. This, and other goodies (including hi-res downloads) from the Solent.
The BBC Programme Catalogue: an index of 946,614 radio and television broadcasts, dating back 75 years. (Via BB.)
Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads Digital images, plus the occasional sound file, for the Bodleian's massive collection. In addition, Samuel Pepys was an enormously important collector, and the Early Modern Center at UCSB has digitized his collection--again, with some sound files. See also the Francis J. Child Ballads, taken from Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. (For previous MeFi sojourns in the wonderful world of ballads, see here, here, and here.)
The Guardian examines "nu snobbery" and the social acceptability among the British press and middle class of ridiculing the working class. The chav phenomenon has been discussed many times on MeFi, but if anything it has gotten more widespread, and as documented in the article, even spawned Chav Discos. Where will it all lead? Has Britain slipped completely back into class snobbery - in both directions - or did it never really go away?