E.W. Swanton v J. Enoch Powell

As a footnote to the Grand Christmas Quiz, this is the full text of the letter that E.W. Swanton sent to the ‘Spectator’ in response to Enoch Powell’s so-called “Rivers of Blood” speech at Birmingham in 1968. Pretty strong stuff, I think you’ll agree.  It’s really only notable because Swanton quite consciously aspired to be the voice of the English cricketing “Establishment”, and so might be suspected, by some, of sympathising with Powell’s views.

“Sir: In a recent letter to the Daily Telegraph, Mr. Patrick Wall, MP, seemed to applaud Mr. Enoch Powell’s infamous speech as a clarion call to Britons who have pride in their country.

Within the last few days an Indian student at Highbury has been set upon, kicked and slashed, by four sixteen year olds chanting ‘blackman, blackman, Enoch, Enoch’.  A respectable West Indian citizen at Wolverhampton celebrating a family christening has been attacked without provocation and injured by people also invoking the name of Enoch, the prophet.  ‘Enoch dockers’ at Westminster have been putting their boots into students off the ground.

Are we to explain this sort of behaviour as some sort of twisted expression of national pride?

Many will echo Mr. Wall’s cry for leadership of a kind that will kindle ‘those principles that made us great’, but what has this aspiration to do with a bloodthirsty, hateful speech, lacking a single compassionate phrase towards fellow-members of our Commonwealth, which has so fanned the flames of ignorance and prejudice as to bring about such episodes as these?

If Enoch knew what passions he was about to unleash, he was guilty of an act that was the complete negation of patriotism.  It is possibly more charitable to suppose that his frothy speech was a bid for future political power which, pray God, he may never achieve.

If ‘Enochism’ were ever to win through, there would surely be a migration from this once great land of white as well as black.

E.W. Swanton

Delf House, Sandwich, Kent.

Un soixante-huitard

Un soixante-huitard

 

Biological Warfare At The Test

As we approach the new season, feeling continues to run high (on Twitter , at any rate) concerning l’affaire KP.  It seems that our hero may be turning out on the County circuit for Surrey and some of the more vociferous pro-KP elements have announced their intention to boycott England’s fixtures in favour of, presumably, providing him with a travelling claque of the kind that sometimes accompany operatic divas.

If he goes through with this plan (and I’m not holding my breath until he appears at Grace Road in Division 2 of the County Championship) there will be a certain irony involved, in that one of the reasons he is so disliked in the Shires (as opposed to on the Internet) is precisely because he has never played any significant amount of County cricket (other than for Nottinghamshire, where he was and is cordially loathed). There are players who have emerged in the post-Central Contract era who have played almost as little County cricket, but who still retain a base of affection and respect in their own County (Ian Bell, for instance) : Geoffrey Boycott was almost as divisive in the country at large, but was adored by a proportion, at least, of the Yorkshire membership.  Surrey (the best fit for Pietersen, perhaps) offers him a last chance to establish a close relationship with a County following, and it will be interesting to see whether he manages to get through to the end of the season without alienating them as well.

But I wonder whether the pro-KP faction might want to go beyond a boycott of England matches, whether extremist elements (the Pietersen Liberation Organisation?) might want to consider actively disrupting them?  In which case they might be interested in this report from “The Times” of 11 May 1970.

“A London University student said yesterday that a plan had been devised to wreck the South African cricket tour with an army of locusts.  By the time the tourists arrived 500,000 would be ready for release on cricket pitches so that they would eat the grass, he said.

Mr. David Wilton-Godberdford, a biology student aged 20, already has 50,000 of the insects at his home in Colwyn Bay.  He said that friends were also breeding them in secret in other parts of North Wales.

The breeds he intends to use are the desert locust and African migratory locust.  They will be up to 1 1/2 inches long, harmless to human beings, and unable to fly.

Mr. Wilton-Godberford, who said he was against violence, explained: “I abhor apartheid and this is to be my personal protest.  Anything up to 100,000 locusts will be let loose at a particular ground and I think the plan is foolproof.  They will ravage every blade of grass and green foliage.  So that their insatiable appetites will not be impaired they will not be fed for 24 hours before the moment of truth.

It takes 70,000 hoppers 12 minutes to consume one cwt. of grass.  The crack of a solid army of locusts feeding on the grass will sound like flames.  The South Africans are going to dread this trip; they will see more locusts than they have ever done back home.”

He said the insects would probably die within a month because of the climate and certainly before their wings developed.”

In the face of this dreadful threat, the Home Secretary caved in and called the Tour off 11 days later.  So, if the Friends of KP have time to cook up 500,000 locusts in time for the first Test, we should see him back in his rightful place in time to face Sri Lanka.

(I have tried to find out what happened to the inventive Mr. Wilton-Godberford, but the best I can do is that he might have changed the spelling of his name slightly, moved to Australia and made a valiant effort to interest the Koreans in solar hot water systems)  http://www.solarhotwatersystems.com.au/solar-hot-water-systems-articles/1992/11/14/cool-to-koreas-trade-winds/

Future England Captain In Assault On Man Of The Century

This week saw the 48th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill (the first public event I think I can remember).  One aspect of Sir Winston’s character that is seldom remarked upon is his love of cricket, mainly, I think, because he had none.

Stanley Baldwin was married to a useful cricketer, sometimes sported an I Zingari tie and liked to employ cricket as a metaphor for his own (in retrospect) benign brand of conservatism: ‘Lord’s changes but Lord’s remains the same’  he said poetically ‘how unchanging is each phase of the ever changing game.’  On the other side of the House, Clement Attlee (supposedly) kept a tickertape machine in his office so that he could keep up with the cricket scores and was complimented (well, I’d say it’s a compliment) by Aneurin Bevan on bringing to ‘the fierce struggle of politics the tepid enthusiasm of a lazy summer afternoon at a cricket match‘.

But (though I’m willing to be contradicted) I can find no evidence that Churchill ever expressed any enthusiasm for the game, ever employed it as a metaphor or even attended a game. Why was this?

Well, he clearly got off on the wrong foot in relation to the game. (Is that a cricketing metaphor, by the way? I’m not sure.)  As a schoolboy at Harrow he fagged for both F.S. Jackson and the (always ‘autocratic’) A.C. MacLaren who, when asked by an interviewer what Churchill had been like, replied “a snotty little bugger”.  There are also (unsourced) claims on the internet that one of his earliest memories was of hiding behind a tree while the other boys threw cricket balls at him.

But even after this prejudicial start I believe the Great Man might have come to appreciate the Great Game had it not been for a later incident involving a third Future England Captain, which may well have been enough to put him off for life, or even end it.  Step forward Lionel Tennyson, in another extract from ‘Sticky Wickets‘.

“One friend of mine at Eton was Duff Cooper, who later became Under Secretary for War and our Ambassador in Paris, and husband of the beautiful Lady Diana Manners.  They and I and other Eton friends and their sisters were more than once guests together at Taplow Court, the home on the bank of the Thames of the late Lord Desborough.  Those were happy days and they give me another link with then and now.

One lovely summer evening during the session of Parliament, Mr. Winston Churchill had come down from London still attired in what was then – as in contrast with now – the usual Parliamentary costume.  He wore a top hat, frock coat, stiff shirt and collar.  Standing on the bank of the Thames, which runs past the foot of the garden, before the dressing bell rang, Mr. Churchill was talking to Lady Desborough.  The sight of him orating and gesticulating in those clothes so near to the water was too great a temptation for us to resist.  Charging altogether from behind him, a few of us sent him flying with a mighty splash into the river.

He was very sporting about it.  When he came ashore, soaked and without his hat, he interceded for us with Lady Desborough in an address which I have never heard excelled for humour and the arts of advocacy.”

A good job Churchill could swim, of course, otherwise – thanks to Tennyson – we might all be speaking German now.

Things To Do In Radlett When It’s Raining

Well, the first leg of my July ‘Anywhere but Grace Road’ tour was a predictable fiasco.  The first day I’d chosen to watch Middlesex 2nds play Surrey 2nds at Radlett was cancelled so that the Surrey players could attend Tom Maynard’s funeral.  My second attempt on the Friday was rained off – though that didn’t stop me turning up at the ground. I may have something further to say about this in the near future.

But what do the good folk of  Radlett find to do with themselves when it’s raining – other than take photographs of cricket pavilions? If you don’t mind waiting until September, there seems to be something for everyone at the Radlett Centre (‘Tiny Mites at the Seaside‘, I imagine, is a lecture by a marine entomologist).

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To occupy the long, wet,  summer months, though, this seems to be about it.

(I’m struggling to think of what Sherlock Holmes might have in common with Tony Benn.  Both fictional characters represented by actors?  Both wear deer-stalkers? Cocaine? Both pipe-smokers, I suppose.)

This week it’s onwards to Edgbaston, God help me.

Two Poems For The Diamond Jubilee

I see that the Laureate has managed to come up with a decent poem to celebrate the Jubilee, by adopting the Ted Hughes method of writing about some natural phenomenon – in this case the River Thames – rather than the Royal Family (you can hear her read it here – http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9716000/9716076.stm )

The last time we had a Diamond Jubilee – in 1897 – the Poet Laureate was Alfred Austin.  He had been appointed because none of the better-qualified candidates wanted the job (William Morris had turned it down) and because he was sympathetic to the Government of the day (in particular, he was a close friend of Lord Salisbury).  So, a little like Andrew Motion.

He has been almost universally reviled as the worst Laureate ever, and his productions were widely mocked in his own time.  So few of his poems are in print that it is hard to judge whether this is fair, but my impression is that he was fine as long as he stuck to nature poetry (‘a simple orderly charm, as of an English country lane’ as the EB of 1911 put it) and only started to go seriously wrong when he wrote about current affairs (e.g. the Jameson raid or the Armenian massacres).

Anyway, this is an abridged version of his Jubilee poem.  I have removed a number of stanzas in the middle, mainly concerned with retrospective praise for Prince Albert.  It starts quite well.

VICTORIA 

The lark went up, the mower whet his scythe,
On golden meads kine ruminating lay,
And all the world felt young again and blithe,
Just as to-day.

The partridge shook her covey from her wings,
And limped along the grass; on leaf and lawn
Shimmered the dew, and every throat that sings
Chanted the dawn.

The doe was followed by her new-dropped fawn,
And, folding all her feathers on her breast,
The swan within the reedmace deep withdrawn
Dreamed on her nest.

In the green wheat the poppy burst aflame,
Wildrose and woodbine garlanded the glade,
And, twin with maiden Summer, forth there came
A summer Maid.

Her face was as the face of mid-June when
Blossoms the meadowsweet, the bindweed blows:
Pale as a lily first She blenched, and then
Blushed like a rose.

They placed a Crown upon her fair young brow,
They put a Sceptre in her girlish hand,
Saying, “Behold! You are Sovereign Lady now
Of this great Land!”

Silent She gazed, as one who doth not know
The meaning of a message. When She broke
The hush of awe around her, ’twas as though
Her soul that spoke.

“With this dread summons, since ’tis Heaven’s decree,
I would not palter, even if I could;
But, being a woman only, I can be
Not great, but good.

“I cannot don the breastplate and the helm,
To my weak waist the sword I cannot gird,
Nor in the discords that distract a Realm
Be seen or heard.

“But in my People’s wisdom will I share,
And in their valour play a helpful part,
Lending them still, in all they do or dare,
My woman’s heart.

Thus with grave utterance and majestic mien
She with her eighteen summers filled the Throne
Where Alfred sate: a girl, withal a Queen,
Aloft, alone!

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[Many stanzas removed here]

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Then to the winds yet wider was unfurled
The Flag that tyrants never could enslave,
Till its strong wisdom governed half the world,
And all the wave!

And, panoplied alike for War or Peace,
Victoria’s England furroweth still the foam
To harvest Empire, wiser than was Greece,
Wider than Rome!

Therefore with glowing hearts and proud glad tears,
The children of her Island Realm to-day
Recall her sixty venerable years
Of virtuous sway.

Now too from where Saint-Lawrence winds, adown
‘Twixt forests felled and plains that feel the plough,
And Ganges jewels the Imperial Crown
That girds her brow;

From Afric’s Cape, where loyal watchdogs bark,
And Britain’s Sceptre ne’er shall be withdrawn,
And that young Continent that greets the dark
When we the dawn;

From steel-capped promontories stern and strong,
And lone isles mounting guard upon the main,
Hither her subjects wend to hail her long
Resplendent Reign.

And ever when mid-June’s musk-roses blow,
Our Race will celebrate Victoria’s name,
And even England’s greatness gain a glow
From Her pure fame.

 

Perhaps a slight hint of Alan Titmarsh here. 

 But not everyone was quite as confident that “Britain’s Sceptre ne’er shall be withdrawn”.  Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee did inspire one far superior poem – Kipling’s minatory Recessional, which, curiously, I don’t think I’ve heard quoted once during the current celebrations. The ‘lesser breeds without the law’, incidentally, are the Germans.

 

 RECESSIONAL

God of our fathers, known of old,   
   Lord of our far-flung battle-line,   
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
   Dominion over palm and pine—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,   
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
 
The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The Captains and the Kings depart:   
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,   
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
 
Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:   
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!   
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,   
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
 
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose   
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,   
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
 
For heathen heart that puts her trust   
   In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
   And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,   
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!
 
 
(The photographs that I’ve used to illustrate this piece depict one living thing that I believe has lived through two Diamond Jubilees – my Great-Grandmother’s aspidistra, in its original pot.  Extraordinary plants, aspidistras.  The dogs and flags belong to two of my nieces.)
 

The British Character : Has It Changed? #4 Political Apathy

The burning issue in the world of politics this week seems to have been apathy.  The BBC is doing its bit to combat it – or possibly stir it up – with an advertising campaign.  The Independent, under the headline ‘Politics holds least interest for the public in a decade’ reported

“The research … shows that less than half the population is interested in politics at all and one in three is unlikely or certain not to vote at the next election. … The study found that dissatisfaction with politics is particularly evident among Liberal Democrat supporters.  A year ago 72 per cent of Liberal Democrat voters said that they were interested in politics but that has now fallen to just 50 per cent.  The number of Conservative supporters interested … has now fallen to 65 percent while Labour support has dropped to 48 per cent.”

Meanwhile, in The Guardian, under the headline “Apathy appears to be the burning issue in Newcastle“, Dutch journalist Joris Luyenduk reported

“Most people I have spoken to down the campaign trail south from John O’Groats don’t know there are local elections coming up, or don’t care … Half a dozen random strangers either won’t vote, or won’t tell me who they’ll vote for.  Perhaps the apathy itself is the burning – or simmering – issue.”   

I’m not sure that apathy – in the sense of an absence of feeling – is quite the right word here.  I suspect that most people find the aspects of party politics that fascinate those professionally involved with it – the personalities, the tactics – about as involving as minor sports such as basketball or ice hockey. 

In the good times, this translates into a benign indifference, but, when times are hard, it turns into a sort of exasperation that people in whom they have so little interest can exert such influence over their lives, and annoyance that it feels irresponsible and potentially self-harming not to care.  But perhaps this is mere autobiography.

But is this new?  Predictably – according to Pont – the answer is no. This is from 1937, when there really was quite a lot going on in the world of politics.   

Firstly …

Hell No, We Won’t Grow : On Strike In Leicestershire

I’m afraid to say that this month’s Stump Watch has had to be called off due to industrial action.

 

So here, instead, are a few snaps of the march and rally in Leicester.  I have to say that, as someone who’s never been on a demonstration in my life before, that I found it all rather bracing, and I’d quite like to do it again.  And no doubt I shall have to.

Here are some fat public sector cats “itching for a fight” –

 

And here is a young teacher (whose name I didn’t make a note of, unfortunately) addressing the rally in the Athena Theatre.  As you can probably see, the theatre was all done up for some kind of ice-themed Christmas event, which created the curious impression, as we were going in, that we were going in to meet Father Christmas (probably not G. Osborne in disguise).

And last on the bill  – by which time, I’m afraid to say, almost everyone had sloped off home or to the pub – the Red Leicester Choir, with their ever-popular rendition of “The Internationale“.  A bit cheesy, but rousing …

Kick It Out!

Racism in sport.  Everyone’s talking about it.

Now this blog has uncovered evidence that a sinister form of apartheid may be operating in the world of equestrianism in the Matlock Bath area – 

Questions must be asked.

Coloured horses?  Why can’t they travel in the same horse-box as the snowy white ones??  What is this????  South Africa???!!!! 

(Actually, ‘coloured’ seems to mean piebald.  Why this needs to be announced on the outside of the box I’m not sure, nor why you need to be particularly cautious of them.) 

 

 

Old England by G.A. Studdert Kennedy

 

Also known by his nom de guerre “Woodbine Willie”, Studdert Kennedy was, as the dust wrapper suggests, “perhaps the most famous Padre serving in the first world war”.  The nickname derived from his habit of handing out handfuls of cigarettes while offering spiritual sustenance to the troops.  He appears to have been genuinely well thought of by the men and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 for exceptional bravery under fire at Messines Ridge.

After the war he became a prominent Pacifist and wrote numerous popular essays with titles such as “Capitalism is nothing but Greed, Grab and Profit-Mongering” (he could never be accused of mincing his words). 

 In his poems “Rough Rhymes of a Padre” and “More Rough Rhymes” he often – as here –  made use of some conventions established by Kipling.  Like Kipling, he might be accused of putting his own words into the soldiers’ mouths.  On the other hand, he might have taken the words right out of their mouths.

His day of commemoration in the Church of England is on 8th March.

 

OLD ENGLAND

YES, I’m fightin’ for old England
      And for eighteenpence a day,
And I’m fightin’ like an ‘ero,
      So the daily papers say.
Well, I ain’t no downy chicken,
      I’m a bloke past forty-three,
And I’m goin’ to tell ye honest
      What old England means to me.
When I joined the British Army
      I’d bin workin’ thirty years,
But I left my bloomin’ rent-book
      Showin’ three months in arrears.
No, I weren’t no chronic boozer,
      Nor I weren’t a lad to bet;
I worked ‘ard when I could get it,
      And I weren’t afeared to sweat.
But I weren’t a tradesman proper,
      And the work were oft to seek,
So the most as I could addle
      Were abaht a quid a week.
And when me and Jane got married,
      And we ‘ad our oldest kid,
We soon learned ‘ow many shillings
      Go to make a golden quid.
For we ‘ad to keep our clubs up,
      And there’s three and six for rent,
And with food and boots and clothing
      It no sooner came than went.
Then when kiddies kep’ on comin’–
      We reared four and buried three;

My ole woman couldn’t do it,
      So we got in debt–ye see.
And we ‘ad a’eap o’ sickness
      And we got struck off the club,
With our little lot o’ troubles
      We just couldn’t pay the sub.
No, I won’t tell you no false’oods;
      There were times I felt that queer,
That I went and did the dirty,
      And I ‘ad a drop o’ beer.
Then the wife and me ‘ud quarrel,
      And our ‘ome were little ‘ell,
Wiv the ‘ungry kiddies cryin’,
      Till I eased up for a spell.
There were times when it were better,
      And some times when it were worse,
But to take it altogether,
      My old England were a curse.
It were sleepin’, sweatin’, starvin’,
      Wearing boot soles for a job,
It were sucking up to foremen
      What ‘ud sell ye for a bob.
It were cringin’, crawlin’, whinin’,
      For the right to earn your bread,
It were schemin’, pinchin’, plannin’,
      It were wishin’ ye was dead.
I’m not fightin’ for old England,
      Not for this child–am I? ‘Ell!
For the sake o’ that old England
      I’d not face a single shell,
Not a single bloomin’ whizzbang.
      Never mind this blarsted show,
With your comrades fallin’ round ye,
      Lyin’ bleedin’ in a row.
This ain’t war, it’s ruddy murder,
      It’s a stinkin’ slaughter ‘ouse.

‘Ark to that one, if ‘e got ye
      ‘E’d just squash ye like this louse.
Would I do this for old England,
      Would I? ‘Ell, I says, not me
What I says is, sink old England
      To the bottom of the sea
It’s new England as I fights for,
      It’s an England swep’ aht clean,
It’s an England where we’ll get at
      Things our eyes ‘ave never seen;
Decent wages, justice, mercy,
      And a chance for ev’ry man
For to make ‘is ‘ome an ‘eaven
      If ‘e does the best ‘e can.
It’s that better, cleaner England,
      Made o’ better, cleaner men,
It’s that England as I fights for,
      And I’m game to fight again.
It’s the better land o’ Blighty
      That still shines afore our eyes,
That’s the land a soldier fights for,
      And for that a soldier dies.

Protest

It isn’t often that this blog gets the chance to report on events of national significance, but I thought I must have been in with a chance today.

When I came out of the tube station in the morning there was an impressive array of muscular coppers lined up outside the University opposite.  Some of the offices built in the fashionable largely plate-glass style had covered their nether regions in hardboard, as if expecting some kind of assault.

 Throughout the day, whenever I popped out for a fag, preparations were clearly being made for the arrival of something monstrous and ghastly – perhaps Genghis Khan and his Hordes, or at least a decent-sized football crowd. 

Roads were being closed off, squads of police – half Hoplite, half American footballer – emerged from the police station, as did detachments of cavalry.  Plain-clothes men (middle market leisure wear and sensible haircuts) sauntered out to assume their positions.

As the afternoon progressed, if you assumed a high vantage point, you could see the hoplites gathering in alleyways, stamping their feet and touching gloves (as we say in the world of cricket).  Overhead, helicopters hovered low 

I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Afternoon

 drowning conversation and pumping the adrenaline.

When I left work, I found my usual route to the station blocked by one of the detachments of cavalry (their high-visibility vests shining in the sunlight) – preparing to scatter the enemy if they regrouped outside J. Fox (the ex-umbrella repair shop)

When I had, by a circuitous route, made my way round to the station, I finally got to see this terrible horde that had presumably issued forth from the Gates of Mordor.  A long crocodile of children, essentially, looking slightly dazed, cowed and – I think – frankly glad it was all over, trailing hand-written cardboard signs in their wooly-mittened hands.

As a demonstration of who – ultimately – is really in charge, the whole thing was immensely impressive.  If you enjoy that kind of thing.

(This photograph appears to suggest that the marchers had just demolished part of Moorgate – but, in fact, it’s just part of the Crossrail Project.  The City is perfectly capable of demolishing itself.)