Little Britain Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Little Britain. Here they are! All 200 of them:

What a joy walking is. All the cares of life, all the hopeless, inept fuckwits that God has strewn along the Bill Bryson Highway of Life suddenly seem far away and harmless, and the world becomes tranquil and welcoming and good.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Am I Catholic or Protestant...? God, I don't know..." -Britain (after having a little too much to drink)
Hidekaz Himaruya
London isn't a place at all. It's a million little places.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The older you get the more it seems the world belongs to other people.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
I like being in a country where when cows attack, word of it gets around. That’s what I mean when I say Britain is cozy.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
Dearest creature in creation, Study English pronunciation. I will teach you in my verse Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse. I will keep you, Suzy, busy, Make your head with heat grow dizzy. Tear in eye, your dress will tear. So shall I! Oh hear my prayer. Just compare heart, beard, and heard, Dies and diet, lord and word, Sword and sward, retain and Britain. (Mind the latter, how it’s written.) Now I surely will not plague you With such words as plaque and ague. But be careful how you speak: Say break and steak, but bleak and streak; Cloven, oven, how and low, Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe. Hear me say, devoid of trickery, Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore, Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles, Exiles, similes, and reviles; Scholar, vicar, and cigar, Solar, mica, war and far; One, anemone, Balmoral, Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel; Gertrude, German, wind and mind, Scene, Melpomene, mankind. Billet does not rhyme with ballet, Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet. Blood and flood are not like food, Nor is mould like should and would. Viscous, viscount, load and broad, Toward, to forward, to reward. And your pronunciation’s OK When you correctly say croquet, Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve, Friend and fiend, alive and live. Ivy, privy, famous; clamour And enamour rhyme with hammer. River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb, Doll and roll and some and home. Stranger does not rhyme with anger, Neither does devour with clangour. Souls but foul, haunt but aunt, Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant, Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger, And then singer, ginger, linger, Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge, Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age. Query does not rhyme with very, Nor does fury sound like bury. Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth. Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath. Though the differences seem little, We say actual but victual. Refer does not rhyme with deafer. Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer. Mint, pint, senate and sedate; Dull, bull, and George ate late. Scenic, Arabic, Pacific, Science, conscience, scientific. Liberty, library, heave and heaven, Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven. We say hallowed, but allowed, People, leopard, towed, but vowed. Mark the differences, moreover, Between mover, cover, clover; Leeches, breeches, wise, precise, Chalice, but police and lice; Camel, constable, unstable, Principle, disciple, label. Petal, panel, and canal, Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal. Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair, Senator, spectator, mayor. Tour, but our and succour, four. Gas, alas, and Arkansas. Sea, idea, Korea, area, Psalm, Maria, but malaria. Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean. Doctrine, turpentine, marine. Compare alien with Italian, Dandelion and battalion. Sally with ally, yea, ye, Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key. Say aver, but ever, fever, Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver. Heron, granary, canary. Crevice and device and aerie. Face, but preface, not efface. Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass. Large, but target, gin, give, verging, Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging. Ear, but earn and wear and tear Do not rhyme with here but ere. Seven is right, but so is even, Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen, Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk, Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work. Pronunciation (think of Psyche!) Is a paling stout and spikey? Won’t it make you lose your wits, Writing groats and saying grits? It’s a dark abyss or tunnel: Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale, Islington and Isle of Wight, Housewife, verdict and indict. Finally, which rhymes with enough, Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough? Hiccough has the sound of cup. My advice is to give up!!!
Gerard Nolst Trenité (Drop your Foreign Accent)
Hey you, dragging the halo- how about a holiday in the islands of grief? Tongue is the word I wish to have with you. Your eyes are so blue they leak. Your legs are longer than a prisoner's last night on death row. I'm filthier than the coal miner's bathtub and nastier than the breath of Charles Bukowski. You're a dirty little windshield. I'm standing behind you on the subway, hard as calculus. My breath be sticking to your neck like graffiti. I'm sitting opposite you in the bar, waiting for you to uncross your boundaries. I want to rip off your logic and make passionate sense to you. I want to ride in the swing of your hips. My fingers will dig in you like quotation marks, blazing your limbs into parts of speech. But with me for a lover, you won't need catastrophes. What attracted me in the first place will ultimately make me resent you. I'll start telling you lies, and my lies will sparkle, become the bad stars you chart your life by. I'll stare at other women so blatantly you'll hear my eyes peeling, because sex with you is like Great Britain: cold, groggy, and a little uptight. Your bed is a big, soft calculator where my problems multiply. Your brain is a garage I park my bullshit in, for free. You're not really my new girlfriend, just another flop sequel of the first one, who was based on the true story of my mother. You're so ugly I forgot how to spell. I'll cheat on you like a ninth grade math test, break your heart just for the sound it makes. You're the 'this' we need to put an end to. The more you apologize, the less I forgive you. So how about it?
Jeffrey McDaniel
The pleasant fact is that the British are not much good at violent crime except in fiction, which is of course as it should be.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
According to Time Out magazine, at any given moment there are 600,000 people on the Underground, making it both a larger and more interesting place than Oslo.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain - which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad - Marmite, village fetes, country lanes, people saying 'mustn't grumble' and 'I'm terribly sorry but', people apologizing to me when I conk them with a nameless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, stinging nettles, seaside piers, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, hot-water bottles as a necessity, drizzly Sundays - every bit of it. What a wondrous place this was - crazy as fuck, of course, but adorable to the tiniest degree. What other country, after all, could possibly have come up with place names like Tooting Bec and Farleigh Wallop, or a game like cricket that goes on for three days and never seems to start? Who else would think it not the least odd to make their judges wear little mops on their heads, compel the Speaker of the House of Commons to sit on something called the Woolsack, or take pride in a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy? ('Please Hardy, full on the lips, with just a bit of tongue.') What other nation in the world could possibly have given us William Shakespeare, pork pies, Christopher Wren, Windsor Great Park, the Open University, Gardners' Question Time and the chocolate digestive biscuit? None, of course. How easily we lose sight of all this. What an enigma Britain will seem to historians when they look back on the second half of the twentieth century. Here is a country that fought and won a noble war, dismantled a mighty empire in a generally benign and enlightened way, created a far-seeing welfare state - in short, did nearly everything right - and then spent the rest of the century looking on itself as a chronic failure. The fact is that this is still the best place in the world for most things - to post a letter, go for a walk, watch television, buy a book, venture out for a drink, go to a museum, use the bank, get lost, seek help, or stand on a hillside and take in a view. All of this came to me in the space of a lingering moment. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I like it here. I like it more than I can tell you.
Bill Bryson (Notes from a Small Island)
Maintaining custom and ritual among their people outweighs the horror of the suffering that they are prepared to see their daughters undergo. Being judged by their community seems far more important than the risk of losing their little girl.
Hibo Wardere (Cut: One Woman's Fight Against FGM in Britain Today)
The Welsh are not like any other people in Britain, and they know how separate they are. They are the Celts, the tough little wine-dark race who were the original possessors of the island, who never mixed with the invaders coming later from the east, but were slowly driven into the western mountains.
Laurie Lee (I Can't Stay Long)
It was known as the Sick Man of Europe. It was in every way poorer than now. Yet there were flowerbeds on roundabouts, libraries and post offices in every village, cottage hospitals in abundance, council housing for all who needed it. It was a country so comfortable and enlightened that hospitals maintained cricket pitches for their staff and mental patients lived in Victorian palaces. If we could afford it then, why not now? Someone needs to explain to me how it is that the richer Britain gets the poorer it thinks itself.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The rooms were small and airless and cramped. To make matters worse, somebody in our group was making the most dreadful silent farts. Fortunately, it was me, so I wasn’t nearly as bothered as the others.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Kings" and "Kingdoms" were as thick in Britain as they had been in little Palestine in Joshua's time, when people had to sleep with their knees pulled up because they couldn't stretch out without a passport.
Mark Twain (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court)
Like his other books, Kershaw has written a rousing tale of little-known heroes . . . The Few marks Kershaw as a master storyteller." — Booklist
Alex Kershaw (The Few: The American "Knights of the Air" Who Risked Everything to Fight in the Battle of Britain)
This is because the conversation about poverty is usually dominated by people with little direct experience of being poor.
Darren McGarvey (Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain's Underclass)
In countless small ways the world around us grows gradually shittier. Well, I don’t like it at all.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Helen opened her eyes and gazed into the luminous blue of the sky. Was it crazy, she wondered, to be as grateful as she felt now, for moments like this, in a world that had atomic bombs in it—and concentration camps, and gas chambers? People were still tearing each other into pieces. There was still murder, starvation, unrest, in Poland, Palestine, India—God knew where else. Britain itself was sliding into bankruptcy and decay. Was it a kind of idiocy or selfishness, to want to be able to give yourself over to the trifles: to the parp of the Regent’s Park Band; to the sun on your face, the prickle of grass beneath your heels, the movement of cloudy beer in your veins, the secret closeness of your lover? Or were those trifles all you had? Oughtn’t you, precisely, to preserve them? To make little crystal drops of them, that you could keep, like charms on a bracelet, to tell against danger when next it came?
Sarah Waters (The Night Watch)
Do you love your country and your king?" Karigan paused. What a curious question. King Zachary was relatively new to the throne and she knew little of his policies or methods, but it wouldn't do to sound disloyal to a dying servant of Sacoridia. "Yes." "I'm a messenger...Green Rider." The young man's body spasmed with pain, and blood dribbled over his lip and down his chin. "The satchel on the saddle...important message for...king. Life or death. If you love Sacor...Sacoridia and its king, take it. Take it to him.
Kristen Britain
That is the most extraordinary fact about Britain. It wants to be a garden. Flowers bloom in the unlikeliest places - on railway sidings and waste grounds where there is nothing beneath them but rubble and grit.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Politics of Friendship is, in other words, only a book between covers. For the real text, you must enter the classroom, put yourself to school, as a preview of the formation of collectivities. A single “teacher's” “students,” flung out into the world and time, is, incidentally, a real-world example of the precarious continuity of a Marxism “to come,” aligned with grassroots counterglobalizing activism in the global South today, with little resemblance to those varieties of “Little Britain” leftism that can take on board the binary opposition of identity politics and humanism, shifting gears as the occasion requires.
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Death of a Discipline)
You can’t go to East Anglia and not visit Sutton Hoo. Well, you can, obviously, but you shouldn’t.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Someone needs to explain to me how it is that the richer Britain gets, the poorer it thinks itself. All
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
... how could Britain operate in India for 300 years and take so little back from it in terms of understanding?
Jane Wilson-Howarth (Snowfed Waters)
I was particularly taken with an article about a pub called the White Post on Rimpton Hill on the Dorset–Somerset border. The county boundary runs right through the middle of the bar. In former times when Dorset and Somerset had different licensing laws, people had to move from one side of the room to the other at 10 pm in order to continue drinking legally until 10.30. I don’t know why but this made me feel a pang of nostalgia for the way things used to be.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
I had never really stopped to consider what an extraordinary thing the Royal National Lifeboat Institution is. Think about it. A troubled ship calls for help, and eight people – teachers, plumbers, the guy who runs the pub – drop everything and put to sea, whatever the weather, asking no questions, imperilling their own lives, to try to help strangers. Is there anything more brave and noble than that?
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
There are loads of people like us. We are all here because we like it here or are married to Britons or both. If I may say so, you are a little more cosmopolitan, possibly even a little more dynamic and productive, sometimes even more adorable and gorgeous, because we are here with you. If you think the only people you should have in your country are the people you produce yourselves, you are an idiot. And,
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
We were kept pure for men, and then broken in by them. And what happened to us in the meantime was completely irrelevant in the pursuit of their pleasure, or their integrity, their masculinity. Were females really valued so little? Would my own daughters face the same fate?
Hibo Wardere (Cut: One Woman's Fight Against FGM in Britain Today)
He loved children and used to dandle me on his knee. This was how the title came about for this book, Uncle Hitler, although in the old German tradition, I called him Uncle Adolf, even though I was not related to him. This was a sign of respect to an older person, which is why I called Frau Eva ‘Aunty Eva’. However, little did I know at that time what revulsion the name Adolf Hitler would eventually invoke in the decent conscience of the world.
Alfred Nestor (Uncle Hitler: A Child's Traumatic Journey Through Nazi Hell to the Safety of Britain)
Some people owe everything they have to the bank accounts of their parents. I owe the state. Put simply, the state educated me, fixed my leg when it was broken, and gave me a grant that enabled me to go to university. It fixed my teeth (a bit) and found housing for my veteran father in his dotage. When my youngest brother was run over by a truck it saved his life and in particular his crushed right hand, a procedure that took half a year, and which would, on the open market—so a doctor told me at the time—have cost a million pounds. Those were the big things, but there were also plenty of little ones: my subsidized sports centre and my doctor’s office, my school music lessons paid for with pennies, my university fees. My NHS glasses aged 9. My NHS baby aged 33. And my local library. To steal another writer’s title: England made me. It has never been hard for me to pay my taxes because I understand it to be the repaying of a large, in fact, an almost incalculable, debt. ....The charming tale of benign state intervention described above is now relegated to the land of fairy tales: not just naïve but actually fantastic. Having one’s own history so suddenly and abruptly made unreal is an experience of a whole generation of British people, who must now wander around like so many ancient mariners boring foreigners about how they went to university for free and could once find a National Health dentist on their high street.
Zadie Smith
We welcome into our homes the machines that vacuum the thoughts out of our heads and pump in someone else's. John Berger in Ways of Seeing said that television advertisers succeeded by persuading viewers to envy themselves as they would be if they bought the product. These programmes do something similar, by persuading the viewer to envy himself as he would be if his life were that little bit more exciting and melodramatic than it actually is. They can make things seem normal that are not.
Peter Hitchens (The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana)
And you threaten to abandon us to Voldemort if we do not comply with your wishes." Harry's voice was razor-sharp. "I regret to inform you that you are not the center of the universe. I'm not threatening to walk out on magical Britain. I'm threatening to walk out on you. I am not a meek little Frodo. This is my quest and if you want in you will play by my rules." Dumbledore's face was still cold. "I am beginning to doubt your suitability as the hero, Mr. Potter." Harry's return gaze was equally icy. "I am beginning to doubt your suitability as my Gandalf, Mr. Dumbledore. Boromir was at least a plausible mistake. What is this Nazgul doing in my Fellowship?
Eliezer Yudkowsky (Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality)
There is a certain irony in the fact that Britain gave the world nearly all its most important geological names—Devonian, Cambrian, Silurian, Ordovician—but that the one epoch that everybody knows about is named for the Jura Mountains in France, even though the Dorset coast is actually the best place in the world to see Jurassic outcrops.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
There is something about the pace and scale of British life - an appreciation of small pleasures, a kind of restraint with respect to greed, generally speaking - that makes life strangely agreeable. The British really are the only people in the world who become genuinely enlivened when presented with a hot beverage and a small plain biscuit.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Perhaps it would be an idea to require developers to live on their own estates for five years, as a demonstration of their superb liveability. It’s just a thought. I
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
... I would submit that if you think the only people you should have in your country are the people you produce yourselves, you are an idiot.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
It occurred to me, not for the first time, that if Britain is ever to sort itself out, it is going to require a lot of euthanasia.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Of the total surface area of Earth, Britain occupies just 0.0174069 per cent.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
It is in the nature of things to be lost and not otherwise. Think of how little has been salvaged from the compost of time of the hundreds of billions of dreams dreamt since the language to describe them emerged, how few names, how few wishes, how few languages even, how we don’t know what tongues the people who erected the standing stones of Britain and Ireland spoke or what the stones meant, don’t know much of the language of the Gabrielanos of Los Angeles or the Miwoks of Marin, don’t know how or why they drew the giant pictures on the desert floor in Nazca, Peru, don’t know much even about Shakespeare or Li Po. It is as though we make the exception the rule, believe that we should have rather than that we will generally lose. We should be able to find our way back again by the objects we dropped, like Hansel and Gretel in the forest, the objects reeling us back in time, undoing each loss, a road back from lost eyeglasses to lost toys and baby teeth. Instead, most of the objects form the secret constellations of our irrecoverable past, returning only in dreams where nothing but the dreamer is lost. They must still exist somewhere: pocket knives and plastic horses don’t exactly compost, but who knows where they go in the great drifts of objects sifting through our world?
Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost)
The day was fine and breezy, and neither of them felt like staying indoors, so they walked past the Three Broomsticks and climbed a slope to visit the Shrieking Shack, the most haunted dwelling in Britain. It stood a little way above the rest of the village, and even in daylight was slightly creepy, with its boarded windows and dank overgrown garden. ‘Even the Hogwarts ghosts avoid it,’ said Ron, as they leaned on the fence, looking up at it. ‘I asked Nearly Headless Nick … he says he’s heard a very rough crowd live here. No one can get in. Fred and George tried, obviously, but all the entrances are sealed shut …
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3))
Tinkerers built America. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, all were tinkerers in their childhood. Everything from the airplane to the computer started in somebody's garage. Go back even further: the Industrial Revolution was a revolution of tinkerers. The great scientific thinkers of eighteenth-century England couldn't have been less interested in cotton spinning and weaving. Why would you be? It was left to a bloke on the shop floor who happened to glance at a one-thread wheel that had toppled over and noticed that both the wheel and the spindle were still turning. So James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, and there followed other artful gins and mules and frames and looms, and Britain and the world were transformed. By tinkerers rather than thinkerers. "Technological change came from tinkerers," wrote Professor J.R. McNeill of Georgetown, "people with little or no scientific education but with plenty of hands-on experience." John Ratzenberger likes to paraphrase a Stanford University study: "Engineers who are great in physics and calculus but can't think in new ways about old objects are doomed to think in old ways about new objects." That's the lesson of the spinning jenny: an old object fell over and someone looked at it in a new way.
Mark Steyn (After America: Get Ready for Armageddon)
My own view is that, since we have it and since it gives such pleasure to so many, especially around the world, it would be folly to get rid of it. The backside of whom are we going to lick when we send a letter in the Republic of Britain? William Hague? Harriet Harman? An elected British President will not glamourize the heads of state of other countries when they come on a state visit. Compared to carriages, crowns, orbs and ermine, an entry-level Jaguar and Marks & Spencer suit offer no edge over other nations when vying for trade advantages. By definition half the country will despise a Labour President or a Conservative one, and you can bet your bottom dollar that politicians will ensure that, if we do become a republic, there will be little other choice than the major parties. Which, at the time of writing, might include UKIP. Lovely.
Stephen Fry (More Fool Me)
What sparked the riots in Britain in 2011 was the shooting of a thug by police. The Left have a penchant for politicising and heralding common criminals as revolutionary heroes. The lionising by the Weather Underground of the murderous sociopaths of the Charles Mason ‘Family’, and even of the accidental derailment in 1947 of a train by little Latino boy, Marion Delgado, are some particularly bizarre examples of the Leftist conception of ‘heroism’.
Kerry Bolton (The Psychotic Left)
Britain has 450,000 listed buildings, 20,000 scheduled ancient monuments, twenty-six World Heritage Sites, 1,624 registered parks and gardens (that is, gardens and parks of historic significance), 600,000 known archaeological sites (and more being found every day; more being lost, too), 3,500 historic cemeteries, 70,000 war memorials, 4,000 sites of special scientific interest, 18,500 medieval churches, and 2,500 museums containing 170 million objects.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Watching Nigel Farage rudely insult fellow members of the European Parliament today - the first occasion they were all assembled in Brussels since the tragic 'Brexit' referendum result - made me feel utterly ashamed to be British. Let it be known that Nigel Farage is the very epitomy of a narrow-minded 'Little Englander' who does not represent the vast majority of outward-looking people from Great Britain. His shameful and unofficial campaign to convince the British electorate to leave the European Union was peppered with lies and deceit. His populist and xenophobic rhetoric has also subsequently contributed to ugly scenes of racial abuse and hate crime directed at Eastern European nationals and ethnic minorities living and working in the UK, in the wake of the referendum result. Fellow Europeans, world citizens, let this be a wake-up call. Deny your own domestic peddlers of populism and nationalism the opportunity to follow the example of this unelected, disrespected maverick, intent on making a name for himself, for he has unwittingly unleashed a wrecking ball on Britain's future economic prosperity, cultural diversity and social harmony.
Alex Morritt (Impromptu Scribe)
Noise is everywhere in America. Waitresses shout orders to the cook. Bus drivers shout at passengers. Checkin-in clerks bark: "Next in line!" Baristas at Starbucks shout: "Conchita, your order's ready!" (I prefer not to give them my real name.)
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Argentina was also one of the richest countries in the world in the nineteenth century, as rich as or even richer than Britain, because it was the beneficiary of the worldwide resource boom; it also had the most educated population in Latin America. But democracy and pluralism were no more successful, and were arguably less successful, in Argentina than in much of the rest of Latin America. One coup followed another, and as we saw in chapter 11, even democratically elected leaders acted as rapacious dictators. Even more recently there has been little progress toward inclusive economic institutions, and as we saw in chapter 13, twenty-first-century Argentinian governments can still expropriate their citizens’ wealth with impunity. All
Daron Acemoğlu (Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty)
Communication between people of different nationalities enriches human society and makes it more colourful.. Imagine our Russian intellectuals, the kind, merry, perceptive old women in our villages, our elderly workers, our young lads, our little girls being free to enter the melting pot of ordinary human intercourse with the people of North and South America, of China, France, India, Britain and the Congo. What a rich variety of customs, fashion, cuisine and labour would then be revealed! what a wonderful human community would then come into being, emerging out of so many peculiarities of national characters and ways of life. And the beggarliness, blindness and inhumanity of narrow nationalism and hostility between states would be clearly demonstrated.
Vasily Grossman (An Armenian Sketchbook)
The muster roll for the 1300 campaign noted that Hugh fitz Heyr, a Shropshire landowner of little consequence, was obliged by the terms of his tenure to serve in the king’s war ‘with bow and arrow’. It also noted that ‘as soon as he saw the enemy he shot his arrow, then went home’.
Marc Morris (A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain)
The Greater London Development Plan would have cost a then-colossal £2 billion, making it the biggest public investment ever made in Britain. That was its salvation. Britain couldn’t afford it. In the end, the visionaries were undone by the unmanageable scale of their own ambitions. It
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
I noticed, as I often noticed at English soccer matches, that I was the only person in the stadium enjoying himself. The rest of the spectators, on both sides, were perpetually stressed and dismayed. A man behind me was simply full of despair. "Now why did he do that?" he would say. "What was he thinking? Why didn't he pass it?" His companion seemed to have some issues with eighteenth century German metaphysics because he kept saying over and over, "Fucking Kant." I am not quite sure how he was relating this to the actions before us, but every time Everton failed to score, he called them a "load of fucking Kants.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Out of all the incursions, the only permanent one so far is the present one, and that dates from just twelve thousand years ago, which means that Britain is actually one of the more recent places in the world to become inhabited by modern people. In this sense it is much younger than the Americas or Australia. The
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
The haughty nephew ... and an even haughtier wife, both convinced that Germany was appointed by God to govern the world. Aunt July would come the next day, convinced that Great Britain had been appointed to the same post by the same authority. Were both these loud-voiced parties right? On one occasion they had met, and Margaret ... had implored them to argue the subject out in her presence. Whereat they blushed and began to talk about the weather. ... Margaret then remarked: "To me one of two things is very clear; either God does not know his own mind about England and Germany, or else these do not know the mind of God." A hateful little girl, but at thirteen she had grasped a dilemma that most people travel through life without perceiving.
E.M. Forster (Howards End)
significance), 600,000 known archaeological sites (and more being found every day; more being lost, too), 3,500 historic cemeteries, 70,000 war memorials, 4,000 sites of special scientific interest, 18,500 medieval churches, and 2,500 museums containing 170 million objects. Having such a fund of richness means that it can sometimes be taken for granted to a shocking degree, but
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The great background question about the Labour governments of the sixties is whether with a stronger leader they could have gripped the country's big problems and dealt with them. How did it happen that a cabinet of such brilliant, such clever and self-confident people achieved so little? In part, it was the effect of the whirling court politics demonstrated by 'In Place of Strife'.
Andrew Marr (A History of Modern Britain)
No." Laurence said, "I mean to retire when we have returned. I have enough money to keep Temeraire now, and enough of a countenance to ask my brother to put us up on one of the farms." Or they might return to Australia, or to China. Temeraire has every right to ask that of him now that the war was won. Laurence did not mean to refuse him, he only hoped to go back to Wollaton Hall first and find a way to carry it with him somehow. He longed in a deep inward part for Britain, for home, and the house standing at twilight with all the windows lit. A child's memory of peace. He would even be grateful there for the counterfeit honors that had been heaped onto his head, if they gave his mother some peace, and his brother need not be ashamed to give him a field for Temeraire to sleep in, for a little while.
Naomi Novik (League of Dragons (Temeraire, #9))
And it is all the more extraordinary when you reflect that despite perpetually modest funding Britain still has three of the world’s top ten universities and eleven of the top one hundred. Put another way, Britain has 1 percent of the world’s population, but 11 percent of its best universities, and accounts for nearly 12 percent of total academic citations and 16 percent of the most highly cited studies. I
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
I am not a religious soul, but I must say it does seem a little uncanny that on that morning of all mornings I should have looked over the bridge at such a propitious moment. I mentioned the story at lunch to one of the members of the cathedral, and he nodded sagely and pointed a finger heavenward, as if to say, ‘It was God, of course.’ I nodded and didn’t say anything, but thought: ‘Then why did He push him in?’ Beyond
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Alongside the development of theatres came the growth of an acting culture; in essence it was the birth of the acting profession. Plays had generally been performed by amateurs - often men from craft guilds. Towards the end of the sixteenth century there developed companies of actors usually under the patronage of a powerful or wealthy individual. These companies offered some protection against the threat of Puritan intervention, censorship, or closure on account of the plague. They encouraged playwrights to write drama which relied on ensemble playing rather than the more static set pieces associated with the classical tradition. They employed boys to play the parts of women and contributed to the development of individual performers. Audiences began to attend the theatre to see favourite actors, such as Richard Burbage or Will Kempe, as much as to see a particular play. Although the companies brought some stability and professionalism to the business of acting - for instance, Shakespeare's company, the Lord Chamberlain's, subsequently the King's, Men, continued until the theatres closed (1642) - they offered little security for the playwright. Shakespeare was in this respect, as in others, the exception to the rule that even the best-known and most successful dramatists of the period often remained financially insecure.
Ronald Carter (The Routledge History of Literature in English: Britain and Ireland)
I HAD TO GO to America for a while to give some talks. Going to America always does me good. It’s where I’m from, after all. There’s baseball on the TV, people are friendly and upbeat, they don’t obsess about the weather except when there is weather worth obsessing about, you can have all the ice cubes you want. Above all, visiting America gives me perspective. Consider two small experiences I had upon arriving at a hotel in downtown Austin, Texas. When I checked in, the clerk needed to record my details, naturally enough, and asked for my home address. Our house doesn’t have a street number, just a name, and I have found in the past that that is more deviance than an American computer can sometimes cope with, so I gave our London address. The girl typed in the building number and street name, then said: “City?” I replied: “London.” “Can you spell that please?” I looked at her and saw that she wasn’t joking. “L-O-N-D-O-N,” I said. “Country?” “England.” “Can you spell that?” I spelled England. She typed for a moment and said: “The computer won’t accept England. Is that a real country?” I assured her it was. “Try Britain,” I suggested. I spelled that, too—twice (we got the wrong number of T’s the first time)—and the computer wouldn’t take that either. So I suggested Great Britain, United Kingdom, UK, and GB, but those were all rejected, too. I couldn’t think of anything else to suggest. “It’ll take France,” the girl said after a minute. “I beg your pardon?” “You can have ‘London, France.’ ” “Seriously?” She nodded. “Well, why not?” So she typed “London, France,” and the system was happy. I finished the check-in process and went with my bag and plastic room key to a bank of elevators a few paces away. When the elevator arrived, a young woman was in it already, which I thought a little strange because the elevator had come from one of the upper floors and now we were going back up there again. About five seconds into the ascent, she said to me in a suddenly alert tone: “Excuse me, was that the lobby back there?” “That big room with a check-in desk and revolving doors to the street? Why, yes, it was.” “Shoot,” she said and looked chagrined. Now I am not for a moment suggesting that these incidents typify Austin, Texas, or America generally or anything like that. But it did get me to thinking that our problems are more serious than I had supposed. When functioning adults can’t identify London, England, or a hotel lobby, I think it is time to be concerned. This is clearly a global problem and it’s spreading. I am not at all sure how we should tackle such a crisis, but on the basis of what we know so far, I would suggest, as a start, quarantining Texas.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
Think for a moment about the Agricultural Revolution from the viewpoint of wheat. Ten thousand years ago wheat was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East. Suddenly, within just a few short millennia, it was growing all over the world. According to the basic evolutionary criteria of survival and reproduction, wheat has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the earth. In areas such as the Great Plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of miles without encountering any other plant. Worldwide, wheat covers about 870,000 square miles of the globe’s surface, almost ten times the size of Britain. How did this grass turn from insignificant to ubiquitous? Wheat did it by manipulating Homo sapiens to its advantage. This ape had been living a fairly comfortable life hunting and gathering until about 10,000 years ago, but then began to invest more and more effort in cultivating wheat. Within a couple of millennia, humans in many parts of the world were doing little from dawn to dusk other than taking care of wheat plants. It wasn’t easy. Wheat demanded a lot of them. Wheat didn’t like rocks and pebbles, so Sapiens broke their backs clearing fields. Wheat didn’t like sharing its space, water and nutrients with other plants, so men and women laboured long days weeding under the scorching sun. Wheat got sick, so Sapiens had to keep a watch out for worms and blight. Wheat was attacked by rabbits and locust swarms, so the farmers built fences and stood guard over the fields. Wheat was thirsty, so humans dug irrigation canals or lugged heavy buckets from the well to water it. Sapiens even collected animal faeces to nourish the ground in which wheat grew.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Traffic was in confusion for several days. For red to mean "stop' was considered impossibly counterrevolutionary. It should of course mean "go." And traffic should not keep to the right, as was the practice, it should be on the left. For a few days we ordered the traffic policemen aside and controlled the traffic ourselves. I was stationed at a street corner telling cyclists to ride on the left. In Chengdu there were not many cars or traffic lights, but at the few big crossroads there was chaos. In the end, the old rules reasserted themselves, owing to Zhou Enlai, who managed to convince the Peking Red Guard leaders. But the youngsters found justifications for this: I was told by a Red Guard in my school that in Britain traffic kept to the left, so ours had to keep to the right to show our anti-imperialist spirit. She did not mention America. As a child I had always shied away from collective activity. Now, at fourteen, I felt even more averse to it. I suppressed this dread because of the constant sense of guilt I had come to feel, through my education, when I was out of step with Mao. I kept telling myself that I must train my thoughts according to the new revolutionary theories and practices. If there was anything I did not understand, I must reform myself and adapt. However, I found myself trying very hard to avoid militant acts such as stopping passersby and cutting their long hair, or narrow trouser legs, or skirts, or breaking their semi-high-heeled shoes. These things had now become signs of bourgeois decadence, according to the Peking Red Guards. My own hair came to the critical attention of my schoolmates. I had to have it cut to the level of my earlobes. Secretly, though much ashamed of myself for being so "petty bourgeois," I shed tears over losing my long plaits. As a young child, my nurse had a way of doing my hair which made it stand up on top of my head like a willow branch. She called it "fireworks shooting up to the sky." Until the early 1960s I wore my hair in two coils, with rings of little silk flowers wound around them. In the mornings, while I hurried through my breakfast, my grandmother or our maid would be doing my hair with loving hands. Of all the colors for the silk flowers, my favorite was pink.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
It’s a funny thing because Britain was in a terrible state in those days. It limped from crisis to crisis. It was known as the Sick Man of Europe. It was in every way poorer than now. Yet there were flower beds in roundabouts, libraries and post offices in every village, cottage hospitals in abundance, council housing for all who needed it. It was a country so comfortable and enlightened that hospitals maintained cricket pitches for their staff and mental patients lived in Victorian palaces.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
It is impossible now to estimate how much of the intellectual and physical energy of the world was wasted in military preparation and equipment, but it was an enormous proportion. Great Britain spent upon army and navy money and capacity, that directed into the channels of physical culture and education would have made the British the aristocracy of the world. Her rulers could have kept the whole population learning and exercising up to the age of eighteen and made a broad-chested and intelligent man of every Bert Smallways in the islands, had they given the resources they spent in war material to the making of men. Instead of which they waggled flags at him until he was fourteen, incited him to cheer, and then turned him out of school to begin that career of private enterprise we have compactly recorded. France achieved similar imbecilities; Germany was, if possible worse; Russia under the waste and stresses of militarism festered towards bankruptcy and decay. All Europe was producing big guns and countless swarms of little Smallways.
H.G. Wells (The War in the Air)
I recognised just how different Alexander was from children raised in Britain. The most obvious distinctions were his maturity and broadness of view. He hadn't lost his innocence or childish ability to play, but he enjoyed conversations with adults, and he saw no problem in playing with any child of any age. He was wonderfully gentle with the little ones. He was never fazed by differences, and cultural diversity was of interest rather than a reason for prejudice, though, - like our Nepali friends - he liked to classify people.
Jane Wilson-Howarth (A Glimpse of Eternal Snows: A Journey of Love and Loss in the Himalayas)
Shekiba was born at the turn of the twentieth century, in an Afghanistan eyed lasciviously by Russia and Britain. Each would take turns promising to protect the borders they had just invaded, like a pedophile who professes to love his victim. The borders between Afghanistan and India were drawn and redrawn from time to time, as if only penciled in. People belonged to one country and then the other, nationalities changing as often as the direction of the wind. For Great Britain and the Soviet Union, Afghanistan was the playing field for their "Great Game," the power struggle to control Central Asia. But the game was slowly coming to an end, the Afghan people ferociously resisting outside control. Chests expanded with pride when Afghans talked about their resilience. But parts of Afghanistan were taken—little by little until its borders shrank in like a wool sweater left in the rain. Areas to the north like Samarkand and Bukhara had been lost to the Russian Empire. Chunks of the south were chipped away and the western front was pushed in over the years.
Nadia Hashimi (The Pearl That Broke Its Shell)
It met its target, a remarkable accomplishment, but here’s the thing. According to the 2014 Times Higher Education world rankings (which are generally held to be the most exacting of their type), the University of Virginia ranks 130th among the world’s universities. Eighteen much more modestly funded British universities rank higher. On the world stage, according to the Times Higher, Virginia is about level with Britain’s Lancaster University, which has an endowment fund one-thousandth the size of Virginia’s. That is pretty extraordinary. And
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
In many ways, the partition of India was the inevitable result of three centuries of Britain’s divide-and-rule policy. As the events of the Indian Revolt demonstrated, the British believed that the best way to curb nationalist sentiment was to classify the indigenous population not as Indians, but as Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, etc. The categorization and separation of native peoples was a common tactic for maintaining colonial control over territories whose national boundaries had been arbitrarily drawn with little consideration for the ethnic, cultural, or religious makeup of the local inhabitants. The French went to great lengths to cultivate class divisions in Algeria, the Belgians promoted tribal factionalism in Rwanda, and the British fostered sectarian schisms in Iraq, all in a futile attempt to minimize nationalist tendencies and stymie united calls for independence. No wonder, then, that when the colonialists were finally expelled from these manufactured states, they left behind not only economic and political turmoil, but deeply divided populations with little common ground on which to construct a national identity.
Reza Aslan (No God But God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam)
Only twenty-seven people in Britain can explain why the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day, but that doesn't stop millions from marking it by staying home from work. An intriguing side effect of thus having two consecutive public holidays is that no matter what days of the week they fall on, the British can easily justify taking the whole week off. Suppose Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, with Boxing Day on the Wednesday. Well, then, what is the point, the contemporary Bob Cratchit cries, of bother to open up the office or factory on Monday, when we all plan to knock off work by lunchtime because it's Christmas Eve? And it's hardly worth cranking up the heat for a working week that's now been whittled down to just two days. By the time we finish complaining about our ingrate in-laws and the cheesy Christmas television programs and the blatant materialism of our kids, it's time to go home for the weekend. Isn't it simpler for Mr. Scrooge to close the countinghouse until the New Year? (He can still pay us, of course.) This creative logic is a little more challenging when Christmas Day is a Thursday, but several Plumley residents had pulled it off...
Alan Beechey (Murdering Ministers: An Oliver Swithin Mystery)
There can be little reasonable doubt that the enclosed oppida and territorial oppida of the Late Iron Age represent the emergence of an urban system. At many of these sites coins were minted with mint marks giving the name of the centre – Calle (Calleva), Camulo (Camulodunum) (71) and Ver (Verulamium) – and some, as we have seen, were centres for royal burial. But the most impressive evidence for their importance is that so many were developed by the Roman authorities as the urban centres of large administrative regions. The Romans had simply accepted the reality of the political and economic geography of the south-east.
Barry W. Cunliffe (Iron Age Britain)
But for reasons that genuinely escape me, it has also become spectacularly accommodating to stupidity. Where this thought most recently occurred to me was in a hotel coffee shop in Baltimore, where I was reading the local paper, the Sun, and I saw a news item noting that Congress had passed a law prohibiting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from funding research that might lead, directly or indirectly, to the introduction of gun controls. Let me repeat that but in slightly different words. The government of the United States refuses to let academics use federal money to study gun violence if there is a chance that they might find a way of reducing the violence. It isn’t possible to be more stupid than that. If you took all the commentators from FOX News and put them together in a room and told them to come up with an idea even more pointlessly idiotic, they couldn’t do it. Britain isn’t like that, and thank goodness. On tricky and emotive issues like gun control, abortion, capital punishment, the teaching of evolution in schools, the use of stem cells for research, and how much flag waving you have to do in order to be considered acceptably patriotic, Britain is calm and measured and quite grown up, and for me that counts for a great deal. —
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
We have now reached a level in which many people are not merely unacquainted with the fundamentals of punctuation, but don’t evidently realize that there are fundamentals. Many people—people who make posters for leading publishers, write captions for the BBC, compose letters and advertisements for important institutions—seem to think that capitalization and marks of punctuation are condiments that you sprinkle through any collection of words as if from a salt shaker. Here is a headline, exactly as presented, from a magazine ad for a private school in York: “Ranked by the daily Telegraph the top Northern Co-Educational day and Boarding School for Academic results.” All those capital letters are just random. Does anyone really think that the correct rendering of the newspaper is “the daily Telegraph”? Is it really possible to be that unobservant? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Not long ago, I received an e-mail from someone at the Department for Children, Schools and Families asking me to take part in a campaign to help raise appreciation for the quality of teaching in Great Britain. Here is the opening line of the message exactly as it was sent to me: “Hi Bill. Hope alls well. Here at the Department of Children Schools and Families…” In the space of one line, fourteen words, the author has made three elemental punctuation errors (two missing commas, one missing apostrophe; I am not telling you more than that) and gotten the name of her own department wrong—this from a person whose job is to promote education. In a similar spirit, I received a letter not long ago from a pediatric surgeon inviting me to speak at a conference. The writer used the word “children’s” twice in her invitation, spelling it two different ways and getting it wrong both times. This was a children’s specialist working in a children’s hospital. How long do you have to be exposed to a word, how central must it be to your working life, to notice how it is spelled?
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
Harriet turned round, and we both saw a girl walking towards us. She was dark-skinned and thin, not veiled but dressed in a sitara, a brightly coloured robe of greens and pinks, and she wore a headscarf of a deep rose colour. In that barren place the vividness of her dress was all the more striking. On her head she balanced a pitcher and in her hand she carried something. As we watched her approach, I saw that she had come from a small house, not much more than a cave, which had been built into the side of the mountain wall that formed the far boundary of the gravel plateau we were standing on. I now saw that the side of the mountain had been terraced in places and that there were a few rows of crops growing on the terraces. Small black and brown goats stepped up and down amongst the rocks with acrobatic grace, chewing the tops of the thorn bushes. As the girl approached she gave a shy smile and said, ‘Salaam alaikum, ’ and we replied, ‘Wa alaikum as salaam, ’ as the sheikh had taught us. She took the pitcher from where it was balanced on her head, kneeled on the ground, and gestured to us to sit. She poured water from the pitcher into two small tin cups, and handed them to us. Then she reached into her robe and drew out a flat package of greaseproof paper from which she withdrew a thin, round piece of bread, almost like a large flat biscuit. She broke off two pieces, and handed one to each of us, and gestured to us to eat and drink. The water and the bread were both delicious. We smiled and mimed our thanks until I remembered the Arabic word, ‘Shukran.’ So we sat together for a while, strangers who could speak no word of each other’s languages, and I marvelled at her simple act. She had seen two people walking in the heat, and so she laid down whatever she had been doing and came to render us a service. Because it was the custom, because her faith told her it was right to do so, because her action was as natural to her as the water that she poured for us. When we declined any further refreshment after a second cup of water she rose to her feet, murmured some word of farewell, and turned and went back to the house she had come from. Harriet and I looked at each other as the girl walked back to her house. ‘That was so…biblical,’ said Harriet. ‘Can you imagine that ever happening at home?’ I asked. She shook her head. ‘That was charity. Giving water to strangers in the desert, where water is so scarce. That was true charity, the charity of poor people giving to the rich.’ In Britain a stranger offering a drink to a thirsty man in a lonely place would be regarded with suspicion. If someone had approached us like that at home, we would probably have assumed they were a little touched or we were going to be asked for money. We might have protected ourselves by being stiff and unfriendly, evasive or even rude.
Paul Torday (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen)
For too long we have been the playthings of massive corporations, whose sole aim is to convert our world into a gargantuan shopping 'mall'. Pleasantry and civility are being discarded as the worthless ephemera of a bygone age; an age where men doffed their hats at ladies, and children could be counted on to mind your Jack Russell while you took a mild and bitter in the pub. The twinkly-eyed tobacconist, the ruddy-cheeked landlord and the bewhiskered teashop lady are being trampled under the mighty blandness of 'drive-thru' hamburger chains. Customers are herded in and out of such places with an alarming similarity to the way the cattle used to produce the burgers are herded to the slaughterhouse. The principal victim of this blandification is Youth, whose natural propensity to shun work, peacock around the town and aggravate the constabulary has been drummed out of them. Youth is left with a sad deficiency of joie de vivre, imagination and elegance. Instead, their lives are ruled by territorial one-upmanship based on brands of plimsoll, and Youth has become little more than a walking, barely talking advertising hoarding for global conglomerates. ... But now, a spectre is beginning to haunt the reigning vulgarioisie: the spectre of Chappism. A new breed of insurgent has begun to appear on the streets, in the taverns and in the offices of Britain: The Anarcho-Dandyist. Recognisable by his immaculate clothes, the rakish angle of his hat and his subtle rallying cry of "Good day to you sir/ madam!
Gustav Temple and Vic Darkwood (The Chap Manifesto: Revolutionary Etiquette for the Modern Gentleman)
By the time Napoleon had spent five years at Brienne and one at the École Militaire he was thoroughly imbued with the military ethos, which was to stay with him for the rest of his life and was to colour his beliefs and outlook deeply. His acceptance of the revolutionary principles of equality before the law, rational government, meritocracy, efficiency and aggressive nationalism fit in well with this ethos but he had little interest in equality of outcome, human rights, freedom of the press or parliamentarianism, all of which, to his mind, did not. Napoleon’s upbringing imbued him with a reverence for social hierarchy, law and order, and a strong belief in reward for merit and courage, but also a dislike of politicians, lawyers, journalists and Britain.
Andrew Roberts (Napoleon the Great)
And by the early 1970s our little parable of Sam and Sweetie is exactly what happened to the North American Golden Retriever. One field-trial dog, Holway Barty, and two show dogs, Misty Morn’s Sunset and Cummings’ Gold-Rush Charlie, won dozens of blue ribbons between them. They were not only gorgeous champions; they had wonderful personalities. Consequently, hundreds of people wanted these dogs’ genes to come into their lines, and over many matings during the 1970s the genes of these three dogs were flung far and wide throughout the North American Golden Retriever population, until by 2010 Misty Morn’s Sunset alone had 95,539 registered descendants, his number of unregistered ones unknown. Today hundreds of thousands of North American Golden Retrievers are descended from these three champions and have received both their sweet dispositions and their hidden time bombs. Unfortunately for these Golden Retrievers, and for the people who love them, one of these time bombs happens to be cancer. To be fair, a so-called cancer gene cannot be traced directly to a few famous sires, but using these sires so often increases the chance of recessive genes meeting—for good and for ill. Today, in the United States, 61.4 percent of Golden Retrievers die of cancer, according to a survey conducted by the Golden Retriever Club of America and the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine. In Great Britain, a Kennel Club survey found almost exactly the same result, if we consider that those British dogs—loosely diagnosed as dying of “old age” and “cardiac conditions” and never having been autopsied—might really be dying of a variety of cancers, including hemangiosarcoma, a cancer of the lining of the blood vessels and the spleen. This sad history of the Golden Retriever’s narrowing gene pool has played out across dozens of other breeds and is one of the reasons that so many of our dogs spend a lot more time in veterinarians’ offices than they should and die sooner than they might. In genetic terms, it comes down to the ever-increasing chance that both copies of any given gene are derived from the same ancestor, a probability expressed by a number called the coefficient of inbreeding. Discovered in 1922 by the American geneticist Sewall Wright, the coefficient of inbreeding ranges from 0 to 100 percent and rises as animals become more inbred.
Ted Kerasote (Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs)
No." Laurence said, "I mean to retire when we have returned. I have enough money to keep Temeraire now, and enough of a countenance to ask my brother to put us up on one of the farms." Or they might return to Australia, or to China. Temeraire has every right to ask that of him now that the war was won. Laurence did not mean to refuse him, he only hoped to go back to Wollaton Hall first and find a way to carry it with him somehow. He longed in a deep inward part for Britain, for home, and the house standing at twilight with all the windows lit. A child's memory of peace. He would even be grateful there for the counterfeit honors that had been heaped onto his head, if they gave his mother some peace, and his brother need not be ashamed to give him a field for Temeraire to sleep in, for a little while.
Naomi Novik, Blood of Tyrants
Darwin’s Bestiary PROLOGUE Animals tame and animals feral prowled the Dark Ages in search of a moral: the canine was Loyal, the lion was Virile, rabbits were Potent and gryphons were Sterile. Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Pride—every peril was fleshed into something phantasmic and rural, while Courage, Devotion, Thrift—every bright laurel crowned a creature in some mythological mural. Scientists think there is something immoral in singular brutes having meat that is plural: beasts are mere beasts, just as flowers are floral. Yet between the lines there’s an implicit demurral; the habit stays with us, albeit it’s puerile: when Darwin saw squirrels, he saw more than Squirrel. 1. THE ANT The ant, Darwin reminded us, defies all simple-mindedness: Take nothing (says the ant) on faith, and never trust a simple truth. The PR men of bestiaries eulogized for centuries this busy little paragon, nature’s proletarian— but look here, Darwin said: some ants make slaves of smaller ants, and end exploiting in their peonages the sweating brows of their tiny drudges. Thus the ant speaks out of both sides of its mealy little mouth: its example is extolled to the workers of the world, but its habits also preach the virtues of the idle rich. 2. THE WORM Eyeless in Gaza, earless in Britain, lower than a rattlesnake’s belly-button, deaf as a judge and dumb as an audit: nobody gave the worm much credit till Darwin looked a little closer at this spaghetti-torsoed loser. Look, he said, a worm can feel and taste and touch and learn and smell; and ounce for ounce, they’re tough as wrestlers, and love can turn them into hustlers, and as to work, their labors are mythic, small devotees of the Protestant Ethic: they’ll go anywhere, to mountains or grassland, south to the rain forests, north to Iceland, fifty thousand to every acre guzzling earth like a drunk on liquor, churning the soil and making it fertile, earning the thanks of every mortal: proud Homo sapiens, with legs and arms— his whole existence depends on worms. So, History, no longer let the worm’s be an ignoble lot unwept, unhonored, and unsung. Moral: even a worm can turn. 3. THE RABBIT a. Except in distress, the rabbit is silent, but social as teacups: no hare is an island. (Moral: silence is golden—or anyway harmless; rabbits may run, but never for Congress.) b. When a rabbit gets miffed, he bounds in an orbit, kicking and scratching like—well, like a rabbit. (Moral: to thine own self be true—or as true as you can; a wolf in sheep’s clothing fleeces his skin.) c. He populates prairies and mountains and moors, but in Sweden the rabbit can’t live out of doors. (Moral: to know your own strength, take a tug at your shackles; to understand purity, ponder your freckles.) d. Survival developed these small furry tutors; the morals of rabbits outnumber their litters. (Conclusion: you needn’t be brainy, benign, or bizarre to be thought a great prophet. Endure. Just endure.) 4. THE GOSSAMER Sixty miles from land the gentle trades that silk the Yankee clippers to Cathay sift a million gossamers, like tides of fluff above the menace of the sea. These tiny spiders spin their bits of webbing and ride the air as schooners ride the ocean; the Beagle trapped a thousand in its rigging, small aeronauts on some elusive mission. The Megatherium, done to extinction by its own bigness, makes a counterpoint to gossamers, who breathe us this small lesson: for survival, it’s the little things that count.
Philip Appleman
Great Britain, for instance, is too big and too diverse to be home to a small-island civilization, but in modern times the English—though not, I think, other peoples of the island—have cultivated what might be called a small-island mentality: all their most tiresome history books stress, sometimes in their opening words, that their history is a function of their insularity. They still write and read histories with such titles as Our Island Story and The Offshore Islanders.4The conviction that their island “arose from the azure main” and is like a gem “set in the silver sea” resounds in national songs and scraps of verse which they hear repeatedly. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the English invested heavily in naval security. They created the cult of the “English eccentric”—which is a way of idealizing the outcome of isolation. They have projected an image as “a singular race, one which prides itself on being a little mad.
Felipe Fernández-Armesto (Civilizations : Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature)
Double-clicking on his inbox, Jason noted that one of the three messages was from Suzy, aka ButterfliesInMyTummy, and his mood lifted. It was the fourth or fifth message they’d exchanged, and they were just starting to move beyond the tedious small-talk stage. He skimmed through the message, growing increasingly impatient. Suzy favoured those little face icons. The whole page was littered with them – smiley faces, sad faces, surprised faces, embarrassed faces. Why couldn’t she just use words like everyone else? She also put five or six exclamation marks after a sentence, or added extra vowels to words, so everything was sooooooooo much fun or soooooooooo boring. It wound Jason up when people couldn’t write properly. He wasn’t asking for brain of Britain, but he liked a woman to be able to write a sentence that started with a capital letter and ended with a full stop and at least made an attempt at the Queen’s English. At least it wasn’t in text speak. He refused to answer the messages that spelled thanks ‘tnx’. Britain didn’t go through two World Wars so that the English language could be mutilated beyond recognition.
Tammy Cohen (First One Missing)
In North America, there is no nostalgia for the postwar period, quite simply because the Trente Glorieuses never existed there: per capita output grew at roughly the same rate of 1.5–2 percent per year throughout the period 1820–2012. To be sure, growth slowed a bit between 1930 and 1950 to just over 1.5 percent, then increased again to just over 2 percent between 1950 and 1970, and then slowed to less than 1.5 percent between 1990 and 2012. In Western Europe, which suffered much more from the two world wars, the variations are considerably greater: per capita output stagnated between 1913 and 1950 (with a growth rate of just over 0.5 percent) and then leapt ahead to more than 4 percent from 1950 to 1970, before falling sharply to just slightly above US levels (a little more than 2 percent) in the period 1970–1990 and to barely 1.5 percent between 1990 and 2012. Western Europe experienced a golden age of growth between 1950 and 1970, only to see its growth rate diminish to one-half or even one-third of its peak level during the decades that followed. [...] If we looked only at continental Europe, we would find an average per capita output growth rate of 5 percent between 1950 and 1970—a level well beyond that achieved in other advanced countries over the past two centuries. These very different collective experiences of growth in the twentieth century largely explain why public opinion in different countries varies so widely in regard to commercial and financial globalization and indeed to capitalism in general. In continental Europe and especially France, people quite naturally continue to look on the first three postwar decades—a period of strong state intervention in the economy—as a period blessed with rapid growth, and many regard the liberalization of the economy that began around 1980 as the cause of a slowdown. In Great Britain and the United States, postwar history is interpreted quite differently. Between 1950 and 1980, the gap between the English-speaking countries and the countries that had lost the war closed rapidly. By the late 1970s, US magazine covers often denounced the decline of the United States and the success of German and Japanese industry. In Britain, GDP per capita fell below the level of Germany, France, Japan, and even Italy. It may even be the case that this sense of being rivaled (or even overtaken in the case of Britain) played an important part in the “conservative revolution.” Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the United States promised to “roll back the welfare state” that had allegedly sapped the animal spirits of Anglo-Saxon entrepreneurs and thus to return to pure nineteenth-century capitalism, which would allow the United States and Britain to regain the upper hand. Even today, many people in both countries believe that the conservative revolution was remarkably successful, because their growth rates once again matched continental European and Japanese levels. In fact, neither the economic liberalization that began around 1980 nor the state interventionism that began in 1945 deserves such praise or blame. France, Germany, and Japan would very likely have caught up with Britain and the United States following their collapse of 1914–1945 regardless of what policies they had adopted (I say this with only slight exaggeration). The most one can say is that state intervention did no harm. Similarly, once these countries had attained the global technological frontier, it is hardly surprising that they ceased to grow more rapidly than Britain and the United States or that growth rates in all of these wealthy countries more or less equalized [...] Broadly speaking, the US and British policies of economic liberalization appear to have had little effect on this simple reality, since they neither increased growth nor decreased it.
Thomas Piketty (Capital in the Twenty-First Century)
There is a growing intolerance of inadequate images of the Absolute. This is a healthy iconoclasm, since the idea of God has been used in the past to disastrous effect. One of the most characteristic new developments since the 1970s has been the rise of a type of religiosity that we usually call “fundamentalism” in most of the major world religions, including the three religions of God. A highly political spirituality, it is literal and intolerant in its vision. In the United States, which has always been prone to extremist and apocalyptic enthusiasm, Christian fundamentalism has attached itself to the New Right. Fundamentalists campaign for the abolition of legal abortion and for a hard line on moral and social decency. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority achieved astonishing political power during the Reagan years. Other evangelists such as Maurice Cerullo, taking Jesus’ remarks literally, believe that miracles are an essential hallmark of true faith. God will give the believer anything that he asks for in prayer. In Britain, fundamentalists such as Colin Urquhart have made the same claim. Christian fundamentalists seem to have little regard for the loving compassion of Christ. They are swift to condemn the people they see as the “enemies of God.” Most would consider Jews and Muslims destined for hellfire, and Urquhart has argued that all oriental religions are inspired by the devil.
Karen Armstrong (History of God)
How are you off for drink? We have got everything in the world on board here. Can you catch?’ and almost immediately a large bottle of champagne was thrown from the gunboat to the shore. It fell in the waters of the Nile, but happily where a gracious Providence decreed them to be shallow and the bottom soft. I nipped into the water up to my knees, and reaching down seized the precious gift which we bore in triumph back to our mess. This kind of war was full of fascinating thrills. It was not like the Great War. Nobody expected to be killed. Here and there in every regiment or battalion, half a dozen, a score, at the worst thirty or fourty, would pay forfeit; but to the great mass of those who took part in the little wars of Britain in those vanished and light-hearted days, this was only a sporting element in a splendid game. Most of us were fated to se a war where the hazards were reversed, where death was the general expectation and severe wounds were counted as lucky escapes, where whole brigades were shorn away under the steel flail of artillery and machine-guns, where the survivors of one tornado knew that they would certainly be consumed in the next or the next after that. Everything depends upon the scale of events. We young men who lay down to sleep that night within three miles of 60,000 well-armed fanatical Dervishes, expecting every moment their violent onset or inrush and sure of fighting at latest with the dawn – we may perhaps be pardoned if we thought we were at grips with real war.
Winston S. Churchill (A Roving Commission; My Early Life (1930))
From the days of the Assyrians and the Qin, great empires were usually built through violent conquest. In 1914 too, all the major powers owed their status to successful wars. For instance, Imperial Japan became a regional power thanks to its victories over China and Russia; Germany became Europe’s top dog after its triumphs over Austria-Hungary and France; and Britain created the world’s largest and most prosperous empire through a series of splendid little wars all over the planet. Thus in 1882 Britain invaded and occupied Egypt, losing a mere fifty-seven soldiers in the decisive Battle of Tel el-Kebir. Whereas in our days occupying a Muslim country is the stuff of Western nightmares, following Tel el-Kebir the British faced little armed resistance, and for more than six decades controlled the Nile Valley and the vital Suez Canal. Other European powers emulated the British, and whenever governments in Paris, Rome or Brussels contemplated putting boots on the ground in Vietnam, Libya or Congo, their only fear was that somebody else might get there first. Even the United States owed its great-power status to military action rather than economic enterprise alone. In 1846 it invaded Mexico, and conquered California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming and Oklahoma. The peace treaty also confirmed the previous US annexation of Texas. About 13,000 American soldiers died in the war, which added 2.3 million square kilometres to the “United States (more than the combined size of France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy). It was the bargain of the millennium.
Yuval Noah Harari (21 Lessons for the 21st Century)
And immediately we rushed like horses, wild with the knowledge of this song, and bolted into a startingly loud harmony: 'Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves; Britons, never-never-ne-verr shall be slaves!' and singing, I saw the kings and the queens in the room with us, laughing in a funny way, and smiling and happy with us. The headmaster was soaked in glee. And I imagined all the glories of Britannia, who, or what or which, had brought us out of the ships crossing over from the terrible seas from Africa, and had placed us on this island, and had given us such good headmasters and assistant masters, and such a nice vicar to teach us how to pray to God - and he had come from England; and such nice white people who lived on the island with us, and who gave us jobs watering their gardens and taking out their garbage, most of which we found delicious enough to eat...all through the ages, all through the years of history; from the Tudors on the wall, down through the Stuarts also on the wall, all through the Elizabethans and including those men and women singing in their hearts with us, hanging dead and distant on our schoolroom walls; Britannia, who, or what or which, had ruled the waves all these hundreds of years, all these thousands and millions of years, and kept us on the island, happy - the island of Barbados (Britannia the Second), free from all invasions. Not even the mighty Germans; not even the Russians whom our headmaster said were dressed in red, had dared to come within submarine distance of our island! Britannia who saw to it that all Britons (we on the island were, beyond doubt, little black Britons, just like the white big Britons up in Britannialand. The headmaster told us so!) - never-never-ne-verr, shall be slaves!
Austin Clarke (Amongst Thistles and Thorns)
One night, around the campfire after a dinner of bully-beef stew, someone opened an extra bottle of rum. ‘As it grew darker, the men began to sing, at first slightly self-conscious and shy, but picking up confidence as the song spread.’ Their songs were not the martial chants of warriors, but the schmaltzy romantic popular tunes of the time: ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’, ‘My Melancholy Baby’, ‘I’m Dancing with Tears in My Eyes’. The bigger and burlier the singer, Pleydell noted, the more passionate and heartfelt the singing. Now the French contingent struck up, with a warbling rendition of ‘Madeleine’, the bittersweet song of a man whose lilacs for his lover have been left to wilt in the rain. Then it was the turn of the German prisoners who, after some debate, belted out ‘Lili Marleen’, the unofficial anthem of the Afrika Korps, complete with harmonies: ‘Vor der Kaserne / Vor dem grossen Tor / Stand eine Laterne / Und steht sie noch davor …’ (Usually rendered in English as: Underneath the lantern, by the barrack gate, darling I remember, how you used to wait.) As the last verse died away, the audience broke into loud whistles and applause. To his own astonishment, Pleydell was profoundly moved. ‘There was something special about that night,’ he wrote years later. ‘We had formed a small solitary island of voices; voices which faded and were caught up in the wilderness. A little cluster of men singing in the desert. An expression of feeling that defied the vastness of its surroundings … a strange body of men thrown together for a few days by the fortunes of war.’ The doctor from Lewisham had come in search of authenticity, and he had found it deep in the desert, among hard soldiers singing sentimental songs to imaginary sweethearts in three languages.
Ben Macintyre (Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War)
Germany’s rearmament was first met with a “supine”134 response from its future adversaries, who showed “little immediate recognition of danger.”135 Despite Winston Churchill’s dire and repeated warnings that Germany “fears no one” and was “arming in a manner which has never been seen in German history,” Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain saw Hitler as merely trying to right the wrongs of Versailles, and acquiesced to the German annexation of the Sudetenland at Munich in September 1938.136 Yet Chamberlain’s anxiety grew as Hitler’s decision to occupy the remainder of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 indicated his broader aims. Chamberlain asked rhetorically: “Is this the end of an old adventure, or is it the beginning of a new? Is this the last attack upon a small State, or is it to be followed by others? Is this, in fact, a step in the direction of an attempt to dominate the world by force?”137 France, meanwhile, as Henry Kissinger explains, “had become so dispirited that it could not bring itself to act.”138 Stalin decided his interests were best served by a non-aggression pact signed with Germany, which included a secret protocol for the division of Eastern Europe.139 One week after agreeing to the pact with Stalin, Hitler invaded Poland, triggering the British and French to declare war on September 3, 1939. The Second World War had begun. Within a year, Hitler occupied France, along with much of Western Europe and Scandinavia. Britain was defeated on the Continent, although it fought off German air assaults. In June 1941, Hitler betrayed Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union. By the time Germany was defeated four years later, much of the European continent had been destroyed, and its eastern half would be under Soviet domination for the next forty years. Western Europe could not have been liberated without the United States, on whose military power it would continue to rely. The war Hitler unleashed was the bloodiest the world had ever seen.
Graham Allison (Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides's Trap?)
Thoughts for the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review If you had been a security policy-maker in the world’s greatest power in 1900, you would have been a Brit, looking warily at your age-old enemy, France. By 1910, you would be allied with France and your enemy would be Germany. By 1920, World War I would have been fought and won, and you’d be engaged in a naval arms race with your erstwhile allies, the U.S. and Japan. By 1930, naval arms limitation treaties were in effect, the Great Depression was underway, and the defense planning standard said ‘no war for ten years.’ Nine years later World War II had begun. By 1950, Britain no longer was the world’s greatest power, the Atomic Age had dawned, and a ‘police action’ was underway in Korea. Ten years later the political focus was on the ‘missile gap,’ the strategic paradigm was shifting from massive retaliation to flexible response, and few people had heard of Vietnam. By 1970, the peak of our involvement in Vietnam had come and gone, we were beginning détente with the Soviets, and we were anointing the Shah as our protégé in the Gulf region. By 1980, the Soviets were in Afghanistan, Iran was in the throes of revolution, there was talk of our ‘hollow forces’ and a ‘window of vulnerability,’ and the U.S. was the greatest creditor nation the world had ever seen. By 1990, the Soviet Union was within a year of dissolution, American forces in the Desert were on the verge of showing they were anything but hollow, the U.S. had become the greatest debtor nation the world had ever known, and almost no one had heard of the internet. Ten years later, Warsaw was the capital of a NATO nation, asymmetric threats transcended geography, and the parallel revolutions of information, biotechnology, robotics, nanotechnology, and high density energy sources foreshadowed changes almost beyond forecasting. All of which is to say that I’m not sure what 2010 will look like, but I’m sure that it will be very little like we expect, so we should plan accordingly. Lin Wells
Philip E. Tetlock (Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction)
Whatever the final cost of HS2, all those tens of billions could clearly buy lots of things more generally useful to society than a quicker ride to Birmingham. Then there is all the destruction of the countryside. A high-speed rail line offers nothing in the way of charm. It is a motorway for trains. It would create a permanent very noisy, hyper-visible scar across a great deal of classic British countryside, and disrupt and make miserable the lives of hundreds of thousands of people throughout its years of construction. If the outcome were something truly marvellous, then perhaps that would be a justifiable price to pay, but a fast train to Birmingham is never going to be marvellous. The best it can ever be is a fast train to Birmingham. Remarkably, the new line doesn’t hook up to most of the places people might reasonably want to go to. Passengers from the north who need to get to Heathrow will have to change trains at Old Oak Common, with all their luggage, and travel the last twelve miles on another service. Getting to Gatwick will be even harder. If they want to catch a train to Europe, they will have to get off at Euston station and make their way half a mile along the Euston Road to St Pancras. It has actually been suggested that travelators could be installed for that journey. Can you imagine travelling half a mile on travelators? Somebody find me the person who came up with that notion. I’ll get the horsewhip. Now here’s my idea. Why not keep the journey times the same but make the trains so comfortable and relaxing that people won’t want the trip to end? Instead, they could pass the time staring out the window at all the gleaming hospitals, schools, playing fields and gorgeously maintained countryside that the billions of saved pounds had paid for. Alternatively, you could just put a steam locomotive in front of the train, make all the seats inside wooden and have it run entirely by volunteers. People would come from all over the country to ride on it. In either case, if any money was left over, perhaps a little of it could be used to fit trains with toilets that don’t flush directly on to the tracks, so that when I sit on a platform at a place like Cambridge or Oxford glumly eating a WH Smith sandwich I don’t have to watch blackbirds fighting over tattered fragments of human waste and toilet paper. It is, let’s face it, hard enough to eat a WH Smith sandwich as it is.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
He remembered an old tale which his father was fond of telling him—the story of Eos Amherawdur (the Emperor Nightingale). Very long ago, the story began, the greatest and the finest court in all the realms of faery was the court of the Emperor Eos, who was above all the kings of the Tylwydd Têg, as the Emperor of Rome is head over all the kings of the earth. So that even Gwyn ap Nudd, whom they now call lord over all the fair folk of the Isle of Britain, was but the man of Eos, and no splendour such as his was ever seen in all the regions of enchantment and faery. Eos had his court in a vast forest, called Wentwood, in the deepest depths of the green-wood between Caerwent and Caermaen, which is also called the City of the Legions; though some men say that we should rather name it the city of the Waterfloods. Here, then, was the Palace of Eos, built of the finest stones after the Roman manner, and within it were the most glorious chambers that eye has ever seen, and there was no end to the number of them, for they could not be counted. For the stones of the palace being immortal, they were at the pleasure of the Emperor. If he had willed, all the hosts of the world could stand in his greatest hall, and, if he had willed, not so much as an ant could enter into it, since it could not be discerned. But on common days they spread the Emperor's banquet in nine great halls, each nine times larger than any that are in the lands of the men of Normandi. And Sir Caw was the seneschal who marshalled the feast; and if you would count those under his command—go, count the drops of water that are in the Uske River. But if you would learn the splendour of this castle it is an easy matter, for Eos hung the walls of it with Dawn and Sunset. He lit it with the sun and moon. There was a well in it called Ocean. And nine churches of twisted boughs were set apart in which Eos might hear Mass; and when his clerks sang before him all the jewels rose shining out of the earth, and all the stars bent shining down from heaven, so enchanting was the melody. Then was great bliss in all the regions of the fair folk. But Eos was grieved because mortal ears could not hear nor comprehend the enchantment of their song. What, then, did he do? Nothing less than this. He divested himself of all his glories and of his kingdom, and transformed himself into the shape of a little brown bird, and went flying about the woods, desirous of teaching men the sweetness of the faery melody. And all the other birds said: "This is a contemptible stranger." The eagle found him not even worthy to be a prey; the raven and the magpie called him simpleton; the pheasant asked where he had got that ugly livery; the lark wondered why he hid himself in the darkness of the wood; the peacock would not suffer his name to be uttered. In short never was anyone so despised as was Eos by all the chorus of the birds. But wise men heard that song from the faery regions and listened all night beneath the bough, and these were the first who were bards in the Isle of Britain.
Arthur Machen (The Secret Glory)
to look at Louisa, stroked her cheek, and was rewarded by a dazzling smile. She had been surprised by how light-skinned the child was. Her features were much more like Eva’s than Bill’s. A small turned-up nose, big hazel eyes, and long dark eyelashes. Her golden-brown hair protruded from under the deep peak of her bonnet in a cascade of ringlets. “Do you think she’d come to me?” Cathy asked. “You can try.” Eva handed her over. “She’s got so heavy, she’s making my arms ache!” She gave a nervous laugh as she took the parcel from Cathy and peered at the postmark. “What’s that, Mam?” David craned his neck and gave a short rasping cough. “Is it sweets?” “No, my love.” Eva and Cathy exchanged glances. “It’s just something Auntie Cathy’s brought from the old house. Are you going to show Mikey your flags?” The boy dug eagerly in his pocket, and before long he and Michael were walking ahead, deep in conversation about the paper flags Eva had bought for them to decorate sand castles. Louisa didn’t cry when Eva handed her over. She seemed fascinated by Cathy’s hair, and as they walked along, Cathy amused her by singing “Old MacDonald.” The beach was only a short walk from the station, and it wasn’t long before the boys were filling their buckets with sand. “I hardly dare open it,” Eva said, fingering the string on the parcel. “I know. I was desperate to open it myself.” Cathy looked at her. “I hope you haven’t built up your hopes, too much, Eva. I’m so worried it might be . . . you know.” Eva nodded quickly. “I thought of that too.” She untied the string, her fingers trembling. The paper fell away to reveal a box with the words “Benson’s Baby Wear” written across it in gold italic script. Eva lifted the lid. Inside was an exquisite pink lace dress with matching bootees and a hat. The label said, “Age 2–3 Years.” Beneath it was a handwritten note:   Dear Eva, This is a little something for our baby girl from her daddy. I don’t know the exact date of her birthday, but I wanted you to know that I haven’t forgotten. I hope things are going well for you and your husband. Please thank him from me for what he’s doing for our daughter: he’s a fine man and I don’t blame you for wanting to start over with him. I’m back in the army now, traveling around. I’m due to be posted overseas soon, but I don’t know where yet. I’ll write and let you know when I get my new address. It would be terrific if I could have a photograph of her in this little dress, if your husband doesn’t mind. Best wishes to you all, Bill   For several seconds they sat staring at the piece of paper. When Eva spoke, her voice was tight with emotion. “Cathy, he thinks I chose to stay with Eddie!” Cathy nodded, her mind reeling. “Eddie showed me the letter he sent. Bill wouldn’t have known you were in Wales, would he? He would have assumed you and Eddie had already been reunited—that he’d written with your consent on behalf of you both.” She was afraid to look at Eva. “What are you going to do?” Eva’s face had gone very pale. “I don’t know.” She glanced at David, who was jabbing a Welsh flag into a sand castle. “He said he was going to be posted overseas. Suppose they send him to Britain?” Cathy bit her lip. “It could be anywhere, couldn’t it? It could be the other side of the world.” She could see what was going through Eva’s mind. “You think if he came here, you and he could be together without . . .” Her eyes went to the boys. Eva gave a quick, almost imperceptible nod, as if she was afraid someone might see her. “What about Eddie?” “I don’t know!” The tone of her voice made David look up. She put on a smile, which disappeared the
Lindsay Ashford (The Color of Secrets)
The long-term integrity of the empire would not be assured by warm words alone. Britain"s own position in the empire had changed. Once, the country been the engine room of empire, the productive heart of the beast. But with Britain becoming more like a boardroom, investing money, taking decisions, but essentially living off the labor of others, and off the earnings of the past? At some point in the future, might even this role wither away, and might Britain become little more than a repository of British tradition, a common idealized land into which Britons abroad – in Australia, Canada, New Zealand or South Africa – could retreat, a collective memory of Greenfields and swooping glens?
Charles Emmerson (1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War)
some of my good Baptist brethren in Georgia had done a little preaching from the pulpit against the KKK, I would have a little more genuine American respect for their Christianity.
Norman Moss (Nineteen Weeks: America, Britain, and the Fateful Summer of 1940)
But Muslims now find themselves in a world shaped by western theories and western values. If we are to consider how Islamic communities conducted their affairs throughout the greater part of their history, it may be convenient to compare and contrast this way of life with the contemporary western model. Today the Muslims are urged to embrace democracy and are condemned for political corruption, while western scholars debate whether Islam can ever accommodate the democratic ideal. On the whole, they think not. Democracy, they believe, is a sign of political maturity and therefore of superiority. Western societies, since they are seen as democratic, exemplify this superiority. So there is one question that has to be pressed home: what, precisely, is meant by democracy? Let me put forward an imaginary Arab who knows nothing of western ways but would like to learn about them. He is aware that the literal meaning of the word democracy is "mob rule", but understands that this is not what westerners mean by it. He wonders how this meaning has, in practice, been modified and, since his questions are directed to an Englishman, he is not altogether surprised to be told that Britain is the exemplary democracy. He learns that the people—all except children, lunatics and peers of the realm—send their representatives to Parliament to speak for them. He is assured that these representatives never accept bribes to vote against their consciences or against the wishes of their constituents. He enquires further and is astonished to learn that the political parties employ what are known as Whips, who compel members to vote in accordance with the party line, even if this conflicts both with their consciences and with the views of the people who elected them. In this case it is not money but ambition for office that determines the way they vote. "But is this not corruption?" he asks naively. The Englishman is shocked. "But at least the party in power represents the vast majority of the electorate?" This time the Englishman is a little embarrassed. It is not quite like that. The governing party, which enjoys absolute power through its dominance in the House of Commons, represents only a minority of the electorate. "Are there no restraints on this power?" There used to be, he is told. In the past there was a balance between the Crown, the House of Lords and the Commons, but that was seen as an undemocratic system so it was gradually eroded. The "sovereignty" of the Lower House is now untrammelled (except, quite recently, by unelected officials in Brussels). "So this is what democracy means?" Our imaginary Arab is baffled. He investigates further and is told that, in the 1997 General Election, the British people spoke with one voice, loud and clear. A landslide victory gave the Leader of the Labour Party virtually dictatorial powers. Then he learns that the turn-out of electors was the lowest since the war. Even so, the Party received only forty-three per cent of the votes cast. He wonders if this can be the system which others wish to impose on his own country. He is aware that various freedoms, including freedom of the press, are essential components of a democratic society, but no one can tell him how these are to be guaranteed if the Ruler, supported by a supine—"disciplined"—House of Commons enjoys untrammelled authority. He knows a bit about rulers and the way in which they deal with dissent, and he suspects that human nature is much the same everywhere. Barriers to oppression soon fall when a political system eliminates all "checks and balances" and, however amiable the current Ruler may be, there is no certainty that his successors, inheriting all the tools of power, will be equally benign. He turns now to an American and learns, with some relief since he himself has experienced the oppression of absolutism, that the American system restrains the power of the President by that of the Congress and the Supreme Court; moreover, the electe
Anonymous
by the time this teacher was telling me that Wilberforce had set Africans free I already had some knowledge of the rebel slaves known as ‘Maroons’ across the Caribbean, and of the Haitian Revolution, so I had some idea that the enslaved had not just sat around waiting for Wilberforce, or anyone else for that matter, to come and save them. While it’s certainly true that Britain had a popular abolitionist movement to a far greater degree than the other major slaveholding powers in Europe at the time, and this is in its own way interesting and remarkable, generations of Brits have been brought up to believe what amount to little more than fairy tales with regard to the abolition of slavery. If you learn only three things during your education in Britain about transatlantic slavery they will be: 1. Wilberforce set Africans free 2. Britain was the first country to abolish slavery (and it did so primarily for moral reasons) 3. Africans sold their own people. The first two of these statements are total nonsense, the third is a serious oversimplification. What does it say about this society that, after two centuries of being one of the most successful human traffickers in history, the only historical figure to emerge from this entire episode as a household name is a parliamentary abolitionist? Even though the names of many of these human traffickers surround us on the streets and buildings bearing their names, stare back at us through the opulence of their country estates still standing as monuments to king sugar, and live on in the institutions and infrastructure built partly from their profits – insurance, modern banking, railways – none of their names have entered the national memory to anything like the degree that Wilberforce has. In fact, I sincerely doubt that most Brits could name a single soul involved with transatlantic slavery other than Wilberforce himself. The ability for collective, selective amnesia in the service of easing a nation’s cognitive dissonance is nowhere better exemplified than in the manner that much of Britain has chosen to remember transatlantic slavery in particular, and the British Empire more generally
Akala (Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire)
back
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
left school without knowing what capitalism was, much less a mortgage, interest rates, central banking, fiat currency or quantitative easing. The word imperialism had never been used in the classroom, much less ‘class struggle’. What history I did learn can be seen as little more than aristocratic nationalist propaganda; Henry VIII and his marital dramas; how Britain and America defeated the Nazis – minus the Commonwealth and with a very vague mention of the Soviet contribution; how Britain had basically invented democracy and all that was good and wonderful.
Akala (Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire)
Blackbeard the pirate was actually Edward Teach sometimes known as Edward Thatch, who lived from 1680 until his death on November 22, 1718. Blackbeard was a notorious English pirate who sailed around the eastern coast of North America. Although little is known about his childhood he may have worked as an apprentice on an English ship, during the second phase in a series of wars between the French and the English from 1754 and ended in 1778 as part of the American Revolutionary War. The war had different names depending on where it was fought. In the American colonies the war was known as the French and Indian War. During the time it was fought during the reign of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, it was called Queen Anne's War and in Europe it was known as the War of the Spanish Succession. During the earlier period of hostilities between France and England, some English ships were granted permission to raid French colonies and French ships and were considered privateers. Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined around 1716 operated from the Bahamian island of New Providence. Captain Hornigold placed Teach in command of a sloop that he had captured and during this time he was given the name Blackbeard. Horngold and Blackbeard sailing out of New Providence engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition of other captured ships. Blackbeard captured a French slave ship known as La Concorde and renamed her Queen Anne's Revenge. He renamed it “Queen Anne's Revenge” referring to Anne, Queen of England and Scotland returning to the throne of Great Britain. He equipped his new acquisition with 40 guns, and a crew of over 300 men. Becoming a world renowned pirate, most people feared him. In a failed attempt to run a blockade in place and refusing the governors pardon, he ran “Queen Anne's Revenge” aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North Carolina and settled in North Carolina where he then accepted a royal pardon. The wreck of “Queen Anne's Revenge” was found in 1996 by private salvagers, Intersal Inc., a salvage company based in Palm Bay, Florida Not knowing when enough, he returned to plundering at sea. Alexander Spotswood, the Governor of Virginia formed a garrison of soldiers and sailors to protect the colony and if possible capture Blackbeard. On November 22, 1718 following a ferocious battle, Blackbeard and several of his crew were killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard. After his death, Blackbeard became a martyr and an inspiration for a number of fictitious books.
Hank Bracker
The curious fact about Oxo cubes is that we have probably never really needed them. These little cubes of salt, beef extract and flavourings were, and I suppose still are, used to add ‘depth’ to stews, gravies and pie fillings made with ‘inferior’ meat. Two million are sold in Britain each day. Yet any half-competent cook knows you can make a blissfully flavoursome stew with a bit of scrag and a few carrots, without recourse to a cube full of chemicals and dehydrated cow. Apart from showing disrespect to the animal that has died for our Sunday lunch (imagine bits of someone else being added to your remains after you have been cremated), the use of a strongly seasoned cube to ‘enhance’ the gravy successfully manages to sum up all that is wrong about the British attitude to food. How could we fail to understand that the juices that drip from a joint of decent meat as it cooks are in fact its heart and soul, and are individual to that animal. Why would anyone need to mask the meat’s natural flavour? By making every roast lunch taste the same, smothering the life out of the natural pan juices seems like an act of culinary vandalism, and people did, and still do, just that on a daily basis.
Nigel Slater (Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table)
The insensitivity of Roosevelt’s reply startled Churchill. The subtext seemed clear: Roosevelt was concerned only about assistance that would directly help sustain the safety of the United States from German attack, and cared little whether the Middle East fell or not. Churchill wrote to Anthony Eden, “It seems to me as if there has been a considerable recession across the Atlantic, and that quite unconsciously we are being left very much to our fate.” Colville noted how the accumulation of bad news that night left Churchill “in worse gloom than I have ever seen him.” Churchill dictated a reply to Roosevelt in which he sought to frame the importance of the Middle East in terms of the long-range interests of the United States itself. “We must not be too sure that the consequences of the loss of Egypt and the Middle East would not be grave,” he told Roosevelt. “It would seriously increase the hazards of the Atlantic and the Pacific, and could hardly fail to prolong the war, with all the suffering and military dangers that this would entail.” Churchill was growing weary of Roosevelt’s reluctance to commit America to war. He had hoped that by now the United States and Britain would be fighting side by side, but always Roosevelt’s actions fell short of Churchill’s needs and expectations. It was true that the destroyers had been an important symbolic gift, and that the lend-lease program and Harriman’s efficient execution of its mandate were a godsend; but it had become clear to Churchill that none of it was enough—only America’s entry into the war would guarantee victory in any reasonable period of time. One result of Churchill’s long courtship of Roosevelt, however, was that now at least the prime minister felt able to express his concerns and wishes with more candor, directly, without fear of driving America away altogether.
Erik Larson (The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz)
Sadly, no one named Victor has written a definitive history of Hong Kong. So we’re left with three versions to choose from. The British version: Provoked into war by Chinese duplicity toward honest European traders, Britain—reluctantly, mind you—took, as a wee little concession, an uninhabited “barren rock with hardly a house upon it”, where they kindly implanted civilization, rule of law, and the most successful, freewheeling capitalist economy the world has ever known. 156 years later they magnanimously gave it back, and everyone lived happily ever after. The Chinese version: Hong Kong was a modern, thriving coastal commercial centre, seized by devilish foreigners during the greatest humiliation ever perpetrated upon China, a heinous act never to be forgotten for the next ten billion years. Thanks to the omniscient leadership of the Communist Party, China’s pride and joy was at last restored to the benevolent embrace of the Motherland, for which all Chinese around the world feel avenged. And by the way, Taiwan’s next. Finally, the most commonly-held version of Hong Kong history: I dunno. You mean I should care?
Larry Feign (A Politically Incorrect History of Hong Kong: Cartoon Stories and the Tale of a Bootleg T-shirt (cartoon history))
Democracy—here and in Britain and France, it hasn’t been so universal a sniveling slavery as Naziism in Germany, such an imagination-hating, pharisaic materialism as Russia—even if it has produced industrialists like you, Frank, and bankers like you, R.C., and given you altogether too much power and money. On the whole, with scandalous exceptions, Democracy’s given the ordinary worker more dignity than he ever had. That may be menaced now by Windrip—all the Windrips. All right! Maybe we’ll have to fight paternal dictatorship with a little sound patricide—fight machine guns with machine guns.
Sinclair Lewis (It Can't Happen Here (Signet Classics))
See, one of the better arguments is, “Well, if you take the guns away, then only the criminals will have guns.” Not true. When they banned the guns in Australia, it worked. When they banned them in Britain, it worked, okay? The Bushmaster gun that the kid was gonna use in Sandy Hook costs, like, $1,000 American and you can buy it in Walmart. It’ll be delivered to your house. That’s it, man. 1,000 bucks, right? That same gun in Australia on the black market costs $34,000. Now if you have $34,000, you don’t need to be a criminal. You’ve got $34,000. You’re a great little saver. Keep going. So that covers the criminals, but that doesn’t cover the people who wanna murder your family, that are coming after you and your family. It kind of does. The people who do the massacres, it covers them ’cause they go… The kid at Colorado who thought he was The Joker, let’s say that he had some social issues. The kid at Sandy Hook was Asperger’s as fuck. Right? I don’t know if you know a lot about the black market, but you can’t just rock up at the docks going, [Slurring speech] “Guns! Who wants to sell me a gun?
Jim Jefferies
Physicians amassed knowledge, but that knowledge did not lead to improved patient management. Visitors to France from Britain and the United States even expressed serious moral reservations about Paris and its priorities. They noted that all too often physicians were little concerned about alleviating suffering or preserving life; surgeons, it was said, regarded operations as primarily a means to achieve greater manual dexterity, and the curriculum did not stress that the primary mission was to heal. Knowledge and its advancement were all that counted. Patients were objects to be observed as if they were displays in a natural history museum or stage props in a theater, and their presence on a ward was principally a means to serve science. Dr.
Frank M. Snowden III (Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present)
Taxation supports the spy, encourages the faction, dictates the content of newspapers.”9 In 1792 even in a quasi-liberal Britain the government owned secretly over half of the newspapers.10 As Boudreaux wrote recently, “The only sure means of keeping money out of politics is to keep politics out of money.”11 Small government. The bumper sticker on my little Smart car read, “Separation of Economy and Government.” We
Deirdre N. McCloskey (Why Liberalism Works: How True Liberal Values Produce a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World for All)
and I
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
On 24 July, Captain La Corne Saint-Luc left with another body of nearly four hundred Indians and two hundred Canadians. His departure had been delayed for two days – because of a lacrosse tournament between the Abenakis and Iroquois. The game was played with a ball and sticks curved in the shape of a crosier; it was this fancied resemblance to a bishop’s staff that inspired the French name for the tribal sport. The stakes in this grudge-match were high: one thousand crowns worth of wampum in belts and strings. Amongst the Indians, lacrosse was a serious business; it could result in broken bones and even the occasional death; it was not for nothing that the Cherokees dubbed it the little brother of war. The mission communities clustered around Montréal were particular aficionados; a 1743 plan of the settlement at the Lake of the Two Mountains shows an extensive lacrosse field. The neighbouring Caughnawagas were no less dedicated to the game and long remained so; a team of Mohawks from the village toured Britain in 1876. Their dazzling exhibition matches sparked the interest that led to the sport’s adoption, in a slightly less violent form, by British schoolgirls. Even that glum widow Queen Victoria considered the game very pretty to watch. It is unlikely that she would have used the same words to describe the Abenaki-Iroquois clash of July 1758.
Stephen Brumwell (White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America)
Buffett is a master at delaying the payment of taxes not for a little while, but for a generation. His MidAmerican Energy Company owns electric and natural gas utilities, with operations from Oregon and Utah through Iowa and east to Britain. It paid just 4 percent of its American profits in federal corporate income taxes in 2006, far less than most Americans paid on their incomes. On its overseas profits, MidAmerican paid a 21 percent tax.
David Cay Johnston (Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You With the Bill))
Little deeds of kindness, little words of love Help to make the earth happy, like the heaven above. JULIA CARNEY, 1823—1908
Nicholas Rhea (Constable along the Lane)
Supermarkets were introduced into Britain to destroy small businesses and create a sense of social alienation
little britain
Only twenty-seven people in Britain can explain why the day after Christmas Day is called Boxing Day, but that doesn't stop millions from marking it by staying home from work. An intriguing side effect of thus having two consecutive public holidays is that no matter what days of the week they fall on, the British can easily justify taking the whole week off. Suppose Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, with Boxing Day on the Wednesday. Well, then, what is the point, the contemporary Bob Cratchit cries, of bother to open up the office or factory on Monday, when we all plan to knock off work by lunchtime because it's Christmas Eve? And it's hardly worth cranking up the heat for a working week that's now been whittled down to just two days. By the time we finish complaining about our ingrate in-laws and the cheesy Christmas television programs and the blatant materialism of our kids, it's time to go home for the weekend. Isn't it simpler for Mr. Scrooge to close the countinghouse until the New Year? (He can still pay us, of course.) This creative logic is a little more challenging when Christmas Day is a Thursday, but several Plumley residents had pulled it off...
Alan Beecheyyy
I first heard of antisemitism only later, when my father told me how Oswald Mosley had fomented riots in the thirties by marching his paramilitary Fascist thugs called “Blackshirts” through Jewish districts in London’s East End. It disgusted him. Mosley’s line was that it was only “big Jews” he hated, not the “little Jews.” The “big Jews” were conspiring to get Britain into war with Germany, whereas the “little Jews” were harmless. But Mosley did nothing to stop his thugs from hurling bricks through the windows of humble houses displaying lighted Sabbath candles.
Phyllis Goldstein (A Convenient Hatred: The History of Antisemitism)
Neville Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, honestly believed that he could reason with Adolf Hitler in good faith. Now, most history books find little else to say about Chamberlain and he is solely remembered for believing that he could pacify Herr Führer by signing the Munich Agreement of 1938. In doing this, he ceded to Germany the Sudetenland, a German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia, without having any real authority to do so. Three days later, French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier followed suit, thereby giving the “German Reich” a piece of Czechoslovakia, consisting of the border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and parts of Silesia. In March of 1939, German troops rolled in and occupied the territory. Three other parts broke off from Czechoslovakia, with one becoming the Slovak Republic, another part being annexed by Hungary, and the third part, which was borderland, becoming a part of Poland. These all came together to become satellite states and allies of Nazi Germany. On May 10, 1940, in a radio address to the 8th Pan American Scientific Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared, “I am a pacifist. You, my fellow citizens of twenty-one American Republics, are pacifists too.” Roosevelt was referring to Canada and Latin America. The United States attempted to remain neutral and did not enter into the war until four days after Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan. Roosevelt opposed the concept of war and made every attempt to find a peaceful solution to the hostilities in Europe. On December 11, 1941, after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, both Germany and Italy declared war on the United States.
Hank Bracker
Caine, Philip D. Aircraft Down! Evading Capture in WWII Europe. Virginia: Potomac Books, 1997. Champlain, Héléne de. The Secret War of Helene De Champlain. Great Britain: Redwood Burn, Ltd., 1980. Chevrillon, Claire. Code Name Christiane Clouet: A Woman in the French Resistance. Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 1995. Coleman, Fred. The Marcel Network: How One French Couple Saved 527 from the Holocaust. Virginia: Potomac Books, 2013. Eisner, Peter. The Freedom Line: The Brave Men and Women Who Rescued Allied Airmen from the Nazis During World War II. New York: HarperCollins, 2004. Fitzsimons, Peter. Nancy Wake: A Biography of Our Greatest War Heroine. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. Foot, M.R.D., and J.M. Langley. MI9: Escape and Evasion, 1939–1945. Boston: Little Brown, 1979. Humbert, Agnés. Résistance: A Woman’s Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France. New York: Bloomsbury USA, 2004. Jackson, Julian. France: The Dark Years, 1940–1944. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Litoff, Judy Barrett. An American Heroine in the French Resistance. The Diary and Memoir of Virginia d’Albert-Lake. New York: Fordham University Press, 2006. Long, Helen. Safe Houses Are Dangerous. London: William Kimber, 1985. Moorehead, Caroline. A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Neave, Airey. Little Cyclone. London: Coronet Books, 1954.
Kristin Hannah (The Nightingale)
authors of more recent books have also praised the bureau for destroying the Nazi networks in South America. But the FBI didn’t intercept the messages. It didn’t monitor the Nazi circuits. It didn’t break the codes. It didn’t solve any Enigma machines. The coast guard did this stuff—the little codebreaking team that Elizebeth created from nothing. During the Second World War, an American woman figured out how to sweep the globe of undercover Nazis. The proof was on paper: four thousand typed decryptions of clandestine Nazi messages that her team shared with the global intelligence community. She had conquered at least forty-eight different clandestine radio circuits and three Enigma machines to get these plaintexts. The pages found their way to the navy and to the army. To FBI headquarters in Washington and bureaus around the world. To Britain. There was no mistaking their origin. Each sheet said “CG Decryption” at the bottom, in black ink.
Jason Fagone (The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies)
ODYSSEUS AS A YOUTH AT HOME WITH HIS MOTHER ODYSSEUS THE HERO OF ITHACA ADAPTED FROM THE THIRD BOOK OF THE PRIMARY SCHOOLS OF ATHENS, GREECE BY MARY E. BURT Author of "Literary Landmarks," "Stories from Plato," "Story of the German Iliad," "The Child-Life Reading Study"; Editor of "Little Nature Studies"; Teacher in the John A. Browning School, New York City AND ZENAÏDE A. RAGOZIN Author of "The Story of Chaldea," "The Story of Assyria," "The Story of Media, Babylon, and Persia," "The Story of Vedic India"; Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, of the American Oriental Society, of the Société Ethnologique of Paris, etc. CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS NEW YORK CHICAGO BOSTON COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
Homer (Odysseus, the Hero of Ithaca Adapted from the Third Book of the Primary Schools of Athens, Greece)
It is in the nature of things to be lost and not otherwise. Think of how little has been salvaged from the compost of time of the hundreds of billions of dreams dreamt since the language to describe them emerged, how few named, how few wishes, how few languages even, how we don't know what tongues the people who erected that standing stones of Britain and Ireland spoke or what the stones meant, don't know much of the language of the Gabrielanos of Los Angeles or the Miwoks of Marin, don't know how or why they drew the giant pictures on the desert floor in Nazca, Peru, don't know much even about Shakespeare or Li Po. It is as though we make the exception the rule, believe that we should be able to find our way back again by the objects we dropped, like Hansel and Gretel in the forest, the objects reeling us back in time, undoing each loss, a road back from lost eyeglasses to lost toys and baby teeth. Instead, most of the objects form the secret constellations of our irrecoverable past, returning only in dreams where nothing but the dreamer is lost. They must still exist somewhere: pocket knives and plastic horses don't exactly compost, but who knows where they go in the great drifts of objects sifting through our world?
Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost)
Someone’s gotta do it. No one’s gonna do it. So I’ll do it. Your honor, I rise in defense of drunken astronauts. You’ve all heard the reports, delivered in scandalized tones on the evening news or as guaranteed punch lines for the late-night comics, that at least two astronauts had alcohol in their systems before flights. A stern and sober NASA has assured an anxious nation that this matter, uncovered by a NASA-commissioned study, will be thoroughly looked into and appropriately dealt with. To which I say: Come off it. I know NASA has to get grim and do the responsible thing, but as counsel for the defense—the only counsel for the defense, as far as I can tell—I place before the jury the following considerations: Have you ever been to the shuttle launchpad? Have you ever seen that beautiful and preposterous thing the astronauts ride? Imagine it’s you sitting on top of a 12-story winged tube bolted to a gigantic canister filled with 2 million liters of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Then picture your own buddies—the “closeout crew”—who met you at the pad, fastened your emergency chute, strapped you into your launch seat, sealed the hatch and waved smiling to you through the window. Having left you lashed to what is the largest bomb on planet Earth, they then proceed 200 feet down the elevator and drive not one, not two, but three miles away to watch as the button is pressed that lights the candle that ignites the fuel that blows you into space. Three miles! That’s how far they calculate they must go to be beyond the radius of incineration should anything go awry on the launchpad on which, I remind you, these insanely brave people are sitting. Would you not want to be a bit soused? Would you be all aflutter if you discovered that a couple of astronauts—out of dozens—were mildly so? I dare say that if the standards of today’s fussy flight surgeons had been applied to pilots showing up for morning duty in the Battle of Britain, the signs in Piccadilly would today be in German. Cut these cowboys some slack. These are not wobbly Northwest Airlines pilots trying to get off the runway and steer through clouds and densely occupied airspace. An ascending space shuttle, I assure you, encounters very little traffic. And for much of liftoff, the astronaut is little more than spam in a can—not pilot but guinea pig. With opposable thumbs, to be sure, yet with only one specific task: to come out alive. And by the time the astronauts get to the part of the journey that requires delicate and skillful maneuvering—docking with the international space station, outdoor plumbing repairs in zero-G—they will long ago have peed the demon rum into their recycling units.
Charles Krauthammer (Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes, and Politics)
He moved to his momentous conclusion: remove Russia from the equation. Halder’s notes retained Hitler’s emphasis. ‘With Russia smashed, Britain’s last hope would be shattered. Germany then will be master of Europe and the Balkans. Decision: Russia’s destruction must therefore be made a part of this struggle. Spring 1941. The sooner Russia is crushed the better. Attack achieves its purpose only if Russian state can be shattered to its roots with one blow. Holding part of the country alone will not do. Standing still for the following winter would be perilous. So it is better to wait a little longer, but with the resolute determination to eliminate Russia … If we start in May 1941, we would have five months to finish the job.
Ian Kershaw (Hitler)
the world hate you? Most of them you will never even meet, and yet they really don’t like you at all. All the people who write software at Microsoft hate you, and so do most of the people who answer phones at Expedia. The people at TripAdvisor would hate you, too, if they weren’t so fucking stupid. Almost all frontline hotel employees detest you, as do airline employees without exception. All the people who have ever worked for British Telecom, including some who died before you were born, hate you; BT employs
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
You can’t have a more civilized community than one in which hospital staff play cricket at the end of a summer’s day and lunatics can wander and mingle without exciting comment or alarm. It was wonderful, possibly unsurpassable. It really was. That was the Britain I came to. I wish it could be that place again.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
The problem was that I knew nothing like as much as I ought to know to work safely as a journalist in Britain, and I lived in constant fear that my employers would discover the full extent of my ignorance and send me back to Iowa.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
I want to start everything in New, what's the bad point?? I don't want to have problems with people which we can be friends or nothing, but not argue as before. What's the purpose what did you gain??? Points?? Money?? PS3??? Xbox??? Nothing just useless and making troubles with people, if we must discuss something let's to be about the fucking Bulgarian Schools, talk about them, I hate them as much as you hate them, I hate the Bulgarian as much as you hate them, I hate the fucking teachers in the fucking schools with which just have fucking problems. How can somebody joke with your spelling or with your mistakes for months???? ... What more to tell you??? That I'm sorry that I'm a Bulgarian guy, because I'm sorry, I can't live with this fucking people, what do they created??? Nothing just staying home and jerkoff non-stop, very creative! And guest what happened??? Here come the "?" people which are terrorists in france and have killed a lot of people and here will be planed the same....,what more only the thought that somebody has graduated from the best school existed in Bulgaria and to have fails with the writing like making so easy mistakes that nobody will make ever, to make mess on the sheets and many other things and this on very important day. A day in which you choose the president or the pre-minister or some kind like this, which is important. I'm very sorry that I'm Bulgarian guy, I don't want to be the cases are this, I want to be an American or a guy from Great Britain, but whatever to be, but to know this language. All people use it, and we are the only people which or some others as one User said that France and Germany are also with the worst English in case that Germany words are like English, but little fucked like spelled and written different like Sänger - singer songster schreiben WOw, this is really fucked just look how arae spelled how are written little like joking with English, aren't they??? If they aren't okay, that's your opinion _ I don't have something against it! If there was chance to be other race no matter what American guy or whatever ot to change my country ot my native language I will do it. If there is chance to and learn English, I go and learnt it without giving and shit about the fucking Bulgarian, I won't call my parents, friends and everything, just everything will be mainly for learning English the best way as possible. I fill fucked there are people which can't read, english, to don't talk about bulgarian, all day I'm seeing how mass media brain washes. I don't see how can be improved Bulgaria it's a fail I know why Adolf Hitler wanted to destroyed it and why Churchill Wanted also, I'm not sure about Churchill, but for HItler I'm sure that he wanted to kill us because of that, whatever you understand me what level we are as nation. I hate the fucking Bulgarian people what to learn from them to joke with people badly??? Very Creative??? To jerkoff all time and to don't give a damn shit about the things around the world?? Or to be with friends which can't think or people which are so much stupid that I'm sorry about them... Whatever, read it if you want if you don't want don't read it, but first check it before you block me. Thank you I appreciate your reading!
Deyth Banger
It is an extraordinary fact but a true one that there are thousands of men in Britain who will never need Viagra as long as steam trains are in operation.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
Gentle Sir Conan, I'll venture that few have been Half as prodigiously lucky as you have been. Fortune, the flirt! has been wondrously kind to you. Ever beneficent, sweet and refined to you. Doomed to the practise of physic and surgery, Yet, growing weary of pills and physicianing, Off to the Arctic you packed, expeditioning. Roving and dreaming, Ambition, that heady sin, Gave you a spirit too restless for medicine: That, I presume, as Romance is the quest of us, Made you an Author-the same as the rest of us. Ah, but the rest of us clamor distressfully, "How do you manage the game so successfully? Tell us, disclose to us how under Heaven you Squeeze from the inkpot so splendid a revenue!" Then, when you'd published your volume that vindicates England's South African raid (or the Syndicate's), Pleading that Britain's extreme bellicosity Wasn't (as most of us think) an atrocity Straightaway they gave you a cross with a chain to it (Oh, what an honor! I could not attain to it, Not if I lived to the age of Methusalem!) Made you a knight of St. John of Jerusalem! Faith! as a teller of tales you've the trick with you! Still there's a bone I've been wanting to pick with you: Holmes is your hero of drama and serial: All of us know where you dug the material! Whence he was moulded-'tis almost a platitude; Yet your detective, in shameless ingratitude Sherlock your sleuthhound with motives ulterior Sneers at Poe's "Dupin" as "very inferior!" Labels Gaboriau's clever "Lecoq," indeed, Merely "a bungler," a creature to mock, indeed! This, when your plots and your methods in story owe More than a trifle to Poe and Gaboriau, Sets all the Muses of Helicon sorrowing. Borrow, Sir Knight, but in decent borrowing! Still let us own that your bent is a cheery one, Little you've written to bore or to weary one, Plenty that's slovenly, nothing with harm in it, Give me detective with brains analytical Rather than weaklings with morals mephitical Stories of battles and man's intrepidity Rather than wails of neurotic morbidity! Give me adventures and fierce dinotheriums Rather than Hewlett's ecstatic deliriums! Frankly, Sir Conan, some hours I've eased with you And, on the whole, I am pretty well pleased with you
Arthur Guiterman
He had spent much of his childhood perched on the coast, with the taste of salt in the air: this was a place of woodland and river, mysterious and secretive in a different way from St. Mawes, the little town with its long smuggling history, where colorful houses tumbled down to the beach.
Robert Galbraith (Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike, #3))
Among these have been an unhealthy number of near-death moments, many of which I look back on now and wince. But I guess our training in life never really ends--and experience is always the best tutor of all. Then there are the most bizarre: like jet-skiing around Britain in aid of the UK lifeboats. Day after day, hour after hour, pounding the seas like little ants battling around the wild coast of Scotland and Irish Sea. (I developed a weird bulging muscle in my forearm that popped out and has stayed with me ever since after that one!) Or hosting the highest open-air dinner party, suspended under a high-altitude hot-air balloon, in support of the Duke of Edinburgh’s kids awards scheme. That mission also became a little hairy, rappelling down to this tiny metal table suspended fifty feet underneath the basket in minus forty degrees, some twenty-five thousand feet over the UK. Dressed in full naval mess kit, as required by the Guinness Book of World Records--along with having to eat three courses and toast the Queen, and breathing from small supplementary oxygen canisters--we almost tipped the table over in the early dawn, stratosphere dark. Everything froze, of course, but finally we achieved the mission and skydived off to earth--followed by plates of potatoes and duck à l-orange falling at terminal velocity. Or the time Charlie Mackesy and I rowed the Thames naked in a bathtub to raise funds for a friend’s new prosthetic legs. The list goes on and on, and I am proud to say, it continues. But I will tell all those stories properly some other place, some other time. They vary from the tough to the ridiculous, the dangerous to the embarrassing. But in this book I wanted to show my roots: the early, bigger missions that shaped me, and the even earlier, smaller moments that steered me.
Bear Grylls (Mud, Sweat and Tears)
Nothing—and I mean really, absolutely nothing—is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilized—more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities and clanging factories, threaded with motorways and railroad tracks—and yet remains so comprehensively and reliably lovely over most of its extent. It is the happiest accident in history. In terms of natural wonders, you know, Britain is a pretty unspectacular place. It has no alpine peaks or broad rift valleys, no mighty gorges or thundering cataracts. It is built to really quite a modest scale. And yet with a few unassuming natural endowments, a great deal of time, and an unfailing instinct for improvement, the makers of Britain created the most superlatively park-like landscapes, the most orderly cities, the handsomest provincial towns, the jauntiest seaside resorts, the stateliest homes, the most dreamily-spired, cathedral-rich, castle-strewn, abbey-bedecked, folly-scattered, green-wooded, winding-laned, sheep-dotted, plumply-hedgerowed, well-tended, sublimely decorated 88,386 square miles the world has ever known—almost none of it undertaken with aesthetics
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
we hit the Rotunda and we did a quick spin around the Museum of London and into the bit of Little Britain that runs beside Postman’s Park. The trees in the park still had most of their leaves, and the street was narrow and shaded and smelled of wet grass rather than the busy cement smell you get in the rest of the City. The office was based in a Mid-Victorian pile whose Florentine flourishes were not fooling anyone but itself. There was a brass plaque by the door engraved with “Public Policy Foundation” and beyond the doors a cool blue marble foyer and a young and strangely elongated white woman behind a reception desk. Because it’s not good policy to, we hadn’t called ahead to make an appointment. Which gave Guleed a chance to tease the receptionist by not showing her warrant card when she identified herself. The receptionist’s expression did a classic three point turn from alarm to suspicion and finally settling on professional friendliness as she picked up the phone and informed someone at the other end that the “police” had arrived to talk to Mr. Chorley.
Ben Aaronovitch (The Hanging Tree (Rivers of London, #6))
Then I realised the very question I was asking was wrong. The whole point is that in the 1960s, there was no such thing as an average eater across most countries, just lots of specific and wildly divergent patterns of eating. Back then, there were maize eaters in Brazil and sorghum eaters in Sudan. There were steak and kidney pie enthusiasts in Britain and goulash devotees in Hungary. But it made little sense to ponder how a globally average person
Bee Wilson (The Way We Eat Now)
This individual, who, either in his own person or in that of some member of his family, seemed to be always in trouble (which in that place meant Newgate), called to announce that his eldest daughter was taken up on suspicion of shoplifting. As he imparted this melancholy circumstance to Wemmick, Mr Jaggers standing magisterially before the fire and taking no share in the proceedings, Mike’s eye happened to twinkle with a tear. ‘What are you about?’ demanded Wemmick, with the utmost indignation. ‘What do you come snivelling here for?’ ‘I did’t go to do it, Mr Wemmick.’ ‘You did,’ said Wemmick. ‘How dare you? You’re not in a fit state to come here, if you can’t come here without spluttering like a bad pen. What do you mean by it?’ ‘A man can’t help his feelings, Mr Wemmick,’ pleaded Mike. ‘His what?’ demanded Wemmick, quite savagely. ‘Say that again!’ ‘Now, look here my man,’ said Mr Jaggers, advancing a step, and pointing to the door. ‘Get out of this office. I’ll have no feelings here. Get out.’ ‘It serves you right,’ said Wemmick. ‘Get out.’ So the unfortunate Mike very humbly withdrew, and Mr Jaggers and Wemmick appeared to have re-established their good understanding, and went to work again with an air of refreshment upon them as if they had just had lunch. Chapter Thirteen From Little Britain, I went, with my cheque in my pocket, to Miss Skiffins’s brother, the accountant; and Miss Skiffins’s brother, the accountant, going straight to Clarriker’s and bringing Clarriker to me, I had the great satisfaction of concluding that arrangement.
Charles Dickens (Great Expectations)
Bring Back Our Baskets! That was the cry heard from Quidditch players across the nation last night as it became clear that the Department of Magical Games and Sports had decided to burn the baskets used for centuries for goal-scoring in Quidditch. ‘We’re not burning them, don’t exaggerate,’ said an irritable-looking Departmental representative last night when asked to comment. ‘Baskets, as you may have noticed, come in different sizes. We have found it impossible to standardise basket size so as to make goalposts throughout Britain equal. Surely you can see it’s a matter of fairness. I mean, there’s a team up near Barnton, they’ve got these minuscule little baskets attached to the opposing team’s posts, you couldn’t get a grape in them. And up their own end they’ve got these great wicker caves swinging around. It’s not on. We’ve settled on a fixed hoop size and that’s it. Everything nice and fair.’ At this point, the Departmental representative was forced to retreat under a hail of baskets thrown by the angry demonstrators assembled in the hall. Although the ensuing riot was later blamed on goblin agitators, there can be no doubt that Quidditch fans across Britain are tonight mourning the end of the game as we know it. ‘’T won’t be t’ same wi’out baskets,’ said one apple-cheeked old wizard sadly. ‘I remember when I were a lad, we used to set fire to ’em for a laugh during t’ match. You can’t do that with goal hoops. ’Alf t’ fun’s gone.’ Daily Prophet, 12 February 1883
Kennilworthy Whisp (Quidditch Through the Ages)
Yet militarism was a more general phenomenon across Europe and throughout societies. In Britain small children wore sailor suits and on the Continent schoolchildren frequently wore little uniforms; secondary schools and universities had cadet corps;
Margaret MacMillan (The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914)
The brightness of day darkened to night. Little could be seen except a rider, cloaked and hooded in gray, mounted on a shadowy horse. She felt unexplained attraction, coupled with fear, toward the rider. She was drawn inexorably closer to him. He twisted toward her. Though she couldn't see his features beneath his hood, she felt his cold gaze as if he could see her where she stood in the library. Icy daggers of fear pierced her heart. Who are you? he demanded. Who watches? She felt unseen eyes search for her, and felt his smile. The mirror goes both ways, he said.
Kristen Britain (Green Rider (Green Rider, #1))
When, during and after the Reformation, the universities lost their status as so many autonomous parts of the universal church, they lost their independence correspondingly. In Protestant Europe, they came under the jurisdiction of the national churches and of the rapacious national monarchies; in Catholic Europe --although to a lesser extent--they came under the jurisdiction of the reinvigorated and consolidated Papacy, and of the sovereigns who, as in Spain and France, made royal influence over the church establishment within their realms a condition of their support for the Roman cause. The dissolution of medieval universalism meant that learning, like nearly everything else, was forced to submit to new or more rigid denominations. With the complete or partial secularization of society which followed upon the French Revolutionary era, in nearly every country except Britain, the universities were stripped of what remained of their old rights and became little better than state corporations.
Russell Kirk (Academic Freedom: An Essay in Definition)
The Agricultural Revolution was history’s biggest fraud.2 Who was responsible? Neither kings, nor priests, nor merchants. The culprits were a handful of plant species, including wheat, rice and potatoes. These plants domesticated Homo sapiens, rather than vice versa. Think for a moment about the Agricultural Revolution from the viewpoint of wheat. Ten thousand years ago wheat was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East. Suddenly, within just a few short millennia, it was growing all over the world. According to the basic evolutionary criteria of survival and reproduction, wheat has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the earth. In areas such as the Great Plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres without encountering any other plant. Worldwide, wheat covers about 2.25 million square kilometres of the globe’s surface, almost ten times the size of Britain. How did this grass turn from insignificant to ubiquitous? Wheat did it by manipulating Homo sapiens to its advantage. This ape had been living a fairly comfortable life hunting and gathering until about 10,000 years ago, but then began to invest more and more effort in cultivating wheat. Within a couple of millennia, humans in many parts of the world were doing little from dawn to dusk other than taking care of wheat plants. It wasn’t easy. Wheat demanded a lot of them. Wheat didn’t like rocks and pebbles, so Sapiens broke their backs clearing fields. Wheat didn’t like sharing its space, water and nutrients with other plants, so men and women laboured long days weeding under the scorching sun. Wheat got sick, so Sapiens had to keep a watch out for worms and blight. Wheat was attacked by rabbits and locust swarms, so the farmers built fences and stood guard over the fields. Wheat was thirsty, so humans dug irrigation canals or lugged heavy buckets from the well to water it. Sapiens even collected animal faeces to nourish the ground in which wheat grew. The body of Homo sapiens had not evolved for such tasks. It was adapted to climbing apple trees and running after gazelles, not to clearing rocks and carrying water buckets. Human spines, knees, necks and arches paid the price. Studies of ancient skeletons indicate that the transition to agriculture brought about a plethora of ailments, such as slipped discs, arthritis and hernias. Moreover, the new agricultural tasks demanded so much time that people were forced to settle permanently next to their wheat fields. This completely changed their way of life. We did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us. The word ‘domesticate’ comes from the Latin ‘domus’, which means ‘house’. Who’s the one living in a house? Not the wheat. It’s the Sapiens.
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
I mentioned my observation that the world seems to be filling up with imbeciles. They explained to me that this is simply an affliction of age.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Curiously, we are the rare animal that actually likes the bitter taste of radicchio or black tea. I fear, however, that Americans raised on sugary things are losing the taste for things savory, sour, and bitter. It’s pitiful that commercial salad dressings contain sugar, and even sweet corn hybrids are much sweeter than when I was little. We’re not alone. In Britain, plant scientists are breeding sweeter hybrids of the brussels sprout, famous for its dour presence at Christmas lunch, but the more palatable sprouts may lack the healthy, bitter compounds.
Nina Planck (Real Food: What to Eat and Why)
Old England to adorn, Greater is none beneath the sun, Than Oak, and Ash, and Thorn. Sing Oak, and Ash, and Thorn, good sirs, (All of a Midsummer morn!) Surely we sing of no little thing, In Oak, and Ash, and Thorn! Rudyard Kipling, ‘Oak, Ash, and Thorn’ (1906) In Rudyard Kipling’s classic Edwardian children’s book Puck of Pook’s Hill, a faery apparition casts a spell over two children by brushing a clump of oak, ash and thorn leaves across their faces. They enter a time-travelling trance in which historical figures – Romans, Domesday-era knights, feudal barons – manifest themselves and spin rambling yarns of their exploits, battles, treachery and derring-do, all of which have taken place across the very land that now forms the kids’ adventure playground. This vertical exploded view of England’s pastures is Edwardian psychogeography, designed to instil a sense of the heroic history that has cut its furrows deep in the soil, sowing the seeds of a national psyche. Ushered there by Puck’s cunning wood magic, the greenwood becomes the gateway to an idealised England where the imagination runs naked and free, until the time comes to swish the oak, ash and thorn twigs once more, awaken from the English dreaming and return to … well, in Kipling’s children’s case, no doubt a piping hot tea of crumpets and scones, lavished upon them by a servile nanny.
Rob Young (Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music)
Unfortunately for the Allies, the long-wavelength radar used in the Battle of Britain proved useless against submarines. Long-range antennas required too much energy and were too heavy to mount on ships or planes. Sonar also did little to stop Hitler’s submarines: the range was too short, and sonar could not detect subs on the surface.
Safi Bahcall (Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries)
On the north-western coasts of Britain and Ireland, the air has a remarkable transparency, for it is almost free of particulate matter. Little loose dust rises from the wet land, and the winds blow prevailingly off the sea. Through such air, photons can proceed without obstacle. The light moves, unscattered, and falls upon the forms and objects of those regions with candour. Standing within such a light, you feel thankful for its openness. There is a sense of something having been freely given, without its store having been diminished.
Robert Macfarlane (The Wild Places)
Indeed the degree of psychic and somatic fulfilment offered by a life filled with ‘beer, women and Spitfires’ seemed to most who enjoyed it then, and to many who contemplate it now, to leave little wanting. The RAF was not a hunting fraternity, but a flying club, the best flying club in the world.
Stephen Bungay (The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain)
The thing that sticks out in my mind was the laughter. Some of the things we laughed at might be regarded as a bit macabre. ‘Old so-and-so ended up on his back and they had to get a crane to lift his aircraft to get him out.’ The fact that old so-and-so was in hospital was neither here nor there. It was still a hell of a laugh. We didn’t take ourselves too seriously. If anybody was heard waxing a bit heavy, and asking if any of us would survive another week, he’d be laughed out of the room. It was taboo to admit that you were in any sort of personal difficulties. We were kids, but at the same time at the top of our profession. We were demonstrating that we were better than the enemy and were saving our country.19 Professional pride and technical skill, about which Wellington’s officers cared little, were important, but if you tried to out-do your colleagues they would usually find a way of taking you down a peg or two.
Stephen Bungay (The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain)
It was just beer, women and Spitfires, a bunch of little John Waynes running about the place.
Stephen Bungay (The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain)
In their determination to put down a popular rebellion against the cruelty and neglect of a despot who was propped up and financed by Britain, British-led forces poisoned wells, torched villages, destroyed crops and shot livestock.40 During the interrogation of rebels they developed their torture techniques, experimenting with noise, the infliction of which became the fifth of the so-called Five Techniques that would later be used in Northern Ireland and condemned by the European courts.41 And areas populated by civilians were turned into free-fire zones. Little wonder that Britain wanted to fight this war in total secrecy.
Ian Cobain (The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation)
I belong to the Reformed tradition, and may have had perhaps a little to do in Britain with the restoration of this emphasis during the last forty years or so. I am disturbed therefore when I am often told by members of churches that many of the younger Reformed men are very good men, who have no doubt read a great deal, and are very learned men, but that they are very dull and boring preachers; and I am told this by people who themselves hold the Reformed position. This is to me a very serious matter; there is something radically wrong with dull and boring preachers. How can a man be dull when he is handling such themes? I would say that a ‘dull preacher’ is a contradiction in terms; if he is dull he is not a preacher. He may stand in a pulpit and talk, but he is certainly not a preacher. With the grand theme and message of the Bible dullness is impossible. This is the most interesting, the most thrilling, the most absorbing subject in the universe; and the idea that this can be presented in a dull manner makes me seriously doubt whether the men who are guilty of this dullness have ever really understood the doctrine they claim to believe, and which they advocate. We often betray ourselves by our manner.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Preaching and Preachers)
The mid-sixth century (close to 550) was the time when bubonic plague entered Britain, along trade routes from the Mediterranean. Significantly, it would have been Britain (the west and centre of the island) which it hit, rather than England (the south-east), because only Britain maintained trade links with the empire. And it would be less likely to spread to the Saxons since they did not consort with Britons and, living outside the established Roman towns and cities, may have lived at a lower density. It would have been virtually simultaneous with the mortālitās magna that hit Ireland, according to the Annals of Ulster, devastating the aristocracy (and no doubt every other class). Maelgwn, king of Gwynedd in Wales, also died of plague in 547 or 549, according to the Annales Cambriae. A folk memory of this dreadful disease, and the depopulation it caused, would remain in the Arthurian legend of the Waste Land, combining famine with military defeat, and a mysterious wound (to the king) in the groin area—one of the characteristics of bubonic plague. There is even a little genetic evidence that strikingly bears this out. Comparing the pattern of Y-chromosome DNA from samples in a line across from Anglesey to Friesland, a recent study found that the Welshmen were to this day clearly distinct from those in central England, but that the English and Frisian samples were so similar that they pointed to a common origin of 50–100 per cent of the (male) population; this could have resulted from a mass migration from Friesland.50 On the usual assumption that the Roman-period population of the island had reached 3 to 4 million, it seems hardly possible that anything other than an epidemic could have so eliminated the Britons from the ancestry of central England. So English supervened.
Nicholas Ostler (Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World)
You will not fuck with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend. Fuck off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and you little gang of masturbatory projects. August 28, 2019
Hugh Grant
The early removal from school of future officers of Britain's seapower, leaving them unacquainted with the subject matter and ideas of the distant and recent past, may account for the incapacity of no military thinking in a world that devoted itself to military action. With little thought of strategy, no study of the theory of war or of planned objective, war's glorious art may have been glorious, but with individual exceptions, it was more or less mindless.
Barbara W. Tuchman (The First Salute)
Ptolemy Horoscope is an astrologer and interpreter of the stars. In 1716 he is living in Little Britain, the “bibliopolitical part of London,
Jess Nevins (The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana)
The halving of crude prices since the summer has brought US and eurozone inflation below zero. Prices in Britain are rising at the slowest rate in decades. Even in Japan, where a programme of quantitative easing had succeeded in pushing up inflation, price pressures have come down sharply compared with last spring. But despite pessimists’ predictions, there is little evidence of a negative spiral of falling prices and weak demand tainting the world economy. Indeed, in January, annual retail sales in the world’s most advanced economies rose at their most rapid pace since 2006 according to Capital Economics, a consultancy. Sliding oil prices have put $250bn in the pockets of consumers in the world’s four largest economies and shoppers seem determined to spend it.
Anonymous
Two months earlier, Victor de Laveleye, the organizer of BBC programs to Belgium, had urged his compatriots to demonstrate their resistance to German rule by scrawling the letter V on the walls of buildings throughout the country. De Laveleye, who had served as Belgian minister of justice before coming to London, told his listeners that the letter would serve as a symbol to unite and rally their sharply divided nation. (Belgium’s population in the north spoke Flemish, a variant of Dutch, and had close cultural and religious ties to the Netherlands, while Belgians in the south spoke French and were intimately linked to France.) As de Laveleye noted, V was the first letter of both the French word “victoire” and the Flemish word “vrijheid” (“freedom”), not to mention the English word “victory.” Belgians accepted de Laveleye’s challenge with gusto, chalking Vs on walls, doors, pavements, and telegraph and telephone poles. So did a growing number of the French, many of whom learned about the V campaign by listening to the BBC’s Belgian service. Although de Laveleye’s initiative was meant for Belgium, it spread across France in a matter of days. In both countries, chalk sales skyrocketed. A letter to the BBC from Normandy noted “a multitude of little Vs everywhere.” A correspondent from Argentière in the French Alps reported “an avalanche of Vs, even on vehicles and on the roads.
Lynne Olson (Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War)
Is It True? English is a really a form of Plattdeutsch or Lowland German, the way it was spoken during the 5th century. It all happened when Germanic invaders crossed the English Channel and the North Sea from northwest Germany, Denmark and Scandinavia to what is now Scotland or Anglo Saxon better identified as Anglo-Celtic. English was also influenced by the conquering Normans who came from what is now France and whose language was Old Norman, which became Anglo-Norman. Christianity solidified the English language, when the King James Version of the Bible was repetitively transcribed by diligent Catholic monks. Old English was very complex, where nouns had three genders with der, die and das denoting the male, female and neuter genders. Oh yes, it also had strong and weak verbs, little understood and most often ignored by the masses. In Germany these grammatical rules survive to this day, whereas in Britain the rules became simplified and der, die and das became da, later refined to the article the! It is interesting where our words came from, many of which can be traced to their early roots. “History” started out as his story and when a “Brontosaurus Steak” was offered to a cave man, he uttered me eat! Which has now become meat and of course, when our cave man ventured to the beach and asked his friend if he saw any food, the friend replied “me see food,” referring to the multitude of fish or seafood! Most English swear words, which Goodreads will definitely not allow me to write, are also of early Anglo-Saxon origin. Either way they obeyed their king to multiply and had a fling, with the result being that we now have 7.6 Billion people on Earth.
Hank Bracker
It really doesn’t pay to go back and look again at the things that once delighted you, because it’s unlikely they will delight you now.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Years ago, when my wife and I were dating, she took me on a day trip to the seaside at Brighton. It was my first exposure to the British at play in a marine environment. It was a fairly warm day--I remember the sun came out for whole moments at a time--and large numbers of people were in the sea. They were shrieking with what I took to be pleasure, but now realize was agony. Naively, I pulled off my T-shirt and sprinted into the water. It was like running into liquid nitrogen. It was the only time in my life in which I have moved like someone does when a movie film is reversed. I dived into the water and then straight back out again, backward, and have never gone into an English sea again. Since that day, I have never assumed that anything is fun just because it looks like the English are enjoying themselves doing it, and mostly I have been right.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The attachment voids experienced by immigrant children are profound. The hardworking parents are focused on supporting their families economically and, unfamiliar with the language and customs of their new society, they are not able to orient their children with authority or confidence. Peers are often the only people available for such children to latch on to. Thrust into a peer-oriented culture, immigrant families may quickly disintegrate. The gulf between child and parent can widen to the point that becomes unbridgeable. Parents of these children lose their dignity, their power, and their lead. Peers ultimately replace parents and gangs increasingly replace families. Again, immigration or the necessary relocation of people displaced by war or economic misery is not the problem. Transplanted to peer-driven North American society, traditional cultures succumb. We fail our immigrants because of our own societal failure to preserve the child-parent relationship. In some parts of the country one still sees families, often from Asia, join together in multigenerational groups for outings. Parents, grandparents, and even frail great-grandparents mingle, laugh, and socialize with their children and their children's offspring. Sadly, one sees this only among relatively recent immigrants. As youth become incorporated into North American society, their connections with their elders fade. They distance themselves from their families. Their icons become the artificially created and hypersexualized figures mass-marketed by Hollywood and the U.S. music industry. They rapidly become alienated from the cultures that have sustained their ancestors for generation after generation. As we observe the rapid dissolution of immigrant families under the influence of the peer-oriented society, we witness, as if on fast-forward video, the cultural meltdown we ourselves have suffered in the past half century. It would be encouraging to believe that other parts of the world will successfully resist the trend toward peer orientation. The opposite is likely to be the case as the global economy exerts its corrosive influences on traditional cultures on other continents. Problems of teenage alienation are now widely encountered in countries that have most closely followed upon the American model — Britain, Australia, and Japan. We may predict similar patterns elsewhere to result from economic changes and massive population shifts. For example, stress-related disorders are proliferating among Russian children. According to a report in the New York Times, since the collapse of the Soviet Union a little over a decade ago, nearly a third of Russia's estimated 143 million people — about 45 million — have changed residences. Peer orientation threatens to become one of the least welcome of all American cultural exports.
Gabor Maté (Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers)
At the Yalta Conference in early 1945, Franklin Roosevelt had made it clear that he had little interest in further close collaboration or partnership with the United States' Western Allies, whose empires and global influence were fast disintegrating. Serenely confident of his own country's power, he envisioned the Soviet Union and its main ally in dealing with postwar international problems.
Lynne Olson (Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War)
Nothing – and I mean, really, absolutely nothing – is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilized – more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities and clanging factories, threaded with motorways and railway lines – and yet remains so comprehensively and reliably lovely over most of its extent. It is the happiest accident in history. In terms of natural wonders, you know, Britain is a pretty unspectacular place. It has no alpine peaks or broad rift valleys, no mighty gorges or thundering cataracts. It is built to really quite a modest scale. And yet with a few unassuming natural endowments, a great deal of time and an unfailing instinct for improvement, the makers of Britain created the most superlatively park-like landscapes, the most orderly cities, the handsomest provincial towns, the jauntiest seaside resorts, the stateliest homes, the most dreamily spired, cathedral-rich, castle-strewn, abbey-bedecked, folly-scattered, green-wooded, winding-laned, sheep-dotted, plumply hedgerowed, well-tended, sublimely decorated 88,386 square miles the world has ever known – almost none of it undertaken with aesthetics in mind, but all of it adding up to something that is, quite often, perfect. What an achievement that is. And
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
At that moment Britain had reached the critical stage of negotiations, begun more than two years previously, with the Ottoman Empire, aimed at resolving the longstanding issues between the two governments over a whole range of matters, including those in the Persian Gulf. These issues included defining British and Ottoman territories and spheres of influence along the entire length of the Gulf, customs duties and terms for the completion of the long-projected Baghdad railway. One of the issues that had been provisionally resolved between the two sides was the question of Najd, which was to be recognised as an Ottoman province and to include Hasa. So Ibn Saud’s sudden seizure of Hasa and the renewal of arguments from British Officials in the Gulf and India, including both Cox and the Viceroy, for reaching some kind of agreement with Ibn Saud, were greeted in London with dismay. Sir Edward Grey, one of the longest-serving but least-travelled Foreign Secretaries in British history, had little knowledge of the world beyond Whitehall. He spoke no foreign languages and had never travelled further than France. One highly respected contemporary described him as so ignorant of the lands beyond Europe that ‘he hardly knew the Persian Gulf from the Red Sea and Europe’.11 At
Barbara Bray (Ibn Saud: The Desert Warrior Who Created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)
It is perhaps dangerous to conclude too much about the character and intentions of a nation based on the snacks menu in a railway carriage, but I couldn't help wonder if Scottish nationalism hasn't gone a little too far now. I mean, these poor people are denying themselves simple comforts like KitKats and Cornish pasties and instead are eating neeps and foot medication on grounds of patriotism. Seems a bit unnecessary to me.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
In that same village, and in one of these very houses (which, to tell the precise truth, was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten), there lived, many years since, while the country was yet a province of Great Britain, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the name of Rip Van Winkle. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles who figured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of Peter Stuyvesant, and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christina. He inherited, however, but little of the martial character of his ancestors. I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man; he was, moreover, a kind neighbor, and an obedient henpecked husband. Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; for those men are apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who are under the discipline of shrews at home. Their tempers, doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation, and a curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering. A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing, and if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed.
Geoffrey Crayon (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow + Rip Van Winkle + Old Christmas + 31 Other Unabridged & Annotated Stories (The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.))
In early 1941, the United States was a fifth-rate military power, its armed forces ranking seventeenth in size compared to other world forces. Long starved of financial support by Congress and the White House, the Army had little more than 300,000 men (most of them just drafted), compared to Germany’s 4 million and Britain’s 1.6 million. Not a single armored division existed, and draftees were training with broomsticks for rifles and sawhorses for antitank guns. The Army was in such bad shape, according to one military historian, that it would not have been able to “repel raids across the Rio Grande by Mexican bandits.” Although the Navy was in better condition, nearly half its vessels dated back to World War I. The Army Air Corps, meanwhile, could boast only about two thousand combat aircraft. After
Lynne Olson (Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour)
In its first ten months of operation, the Eighth lost 188 heavy bombers and some 1,900 crewmen; those numbers would skyrocket over the next year and a half. By the end of the conflict, the U.S. air operations in Europe would suffer more fatalities—26,000—than the entire Marine Corps in its protracted bloody campaigns in the Pacific. “To fly in the Eighth Air Force in those days,” recalled Harrison Salisbury, “was to hold a ticket to a funeral. Your own.” The savagery of the air war was not due solely to the ferocity of German defenses. Early in the war, when the Air Force brass in Washington were touting the advantages of high-altitude flying, they failed to realize that the extreme atmospheric conditions experienced by the crews could kill as effectively as a Messerschmitt or Focke-Wulf. “There are apparently little things that one doesn’t think about prior to getting into operations,” commented Dr. Malcolm Grow, the Eighth’s chief medical officer. Little things like oxygen deprivation, which could cause unconsciousness and death in a matter of minutes, or extensive frostbite, caused by several hours of exposure to temperatures of 50 to 60 degrees below zero. Until early 1944, more airmen were hospitalized for frostbite than for combat injuries. As
Lynne Olson (Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour)
Think for a moment about the Agricultural Revolution from the viewpoint of wheat. Ten thousand years ago wheat was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East. Suddenly, within just a few short millennia, it was growing all over the world. According to the basic evolutionary criteria of survival and reproduction, wheat has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the earth. In areas such as the Great Plains of North America, where not a single wheat stalk grew 10,000 years ago, you can today walk for hundreds upon hundreds of kilometres without encountering any other plant. Worldwide, wheat covers about 2.25 million square kilometres of the globe’s surface, almost ten times the size of Britain. How did this grass turn from insignificant to ubiquitous? Wheat did it by manipulating Homo sapiens to its advantage. This ape had been living a fairly comfortable life hunting and gathering until about 10,000 years ago, but then began to invest more and more effort in cultivating wheat. Within a couple of millennia, humans in many parts of the world were doing little from dawn to dusk other than taking care of wheat plants. It wasn’t easy. Wheat demanded a lot of them. Wheat didn’t like rocks and pebbles, so Sapiens broke their backs clearing fields. Wheat didn’t like sharing its space, water and nutrients with other plants, so men and women laboured long days weeding under the scorching sun. Wheat got sick, so Sapiens had to keep a watch out for worms and blight. Wheat was attacked by rabbits and locust swarms, so the farmers built fences and stood guard over the fields. Wheat was thirsty, so humans dug irrigation canals or lugged heavy buckets from the well to water it. Sapiens even collected animal faeces to nourish the ground in which wheat grew. The
Yuval Noah Harari (Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind)
Another thing you need to understand is what we now call the “core competencies” of your organization. What are we really good at? What do our customers pay us for? Why do they buy from us? In a competitive, nonmonopolistic market—and that is what the world has become—there is absolutely no reason why a customer should buy from you rather from your competitor. None. He pays you because you give him something that is of value to him. What is it that we get paid for? You may think this is a simple question. It is not. I have been working with some of the world’s biggest manufacturers, producers, and distributors of packaged consumer goods. All of you use their products, even in Slovenia. They have two kinds of customers. One, of course, is the retailer. The other is the housewife. What do they pay for? I have been asking this question for a year now. I do not know how many companies in the world make soap, but there are a great many. And I can’t tell the difference between one kind of soap or the other. And why does the buyer have a preference—and a strong one, by the way? What does it do for her? Why is she willing to buy from one manufacturer when on the same shelves in the United States or in Japan or in Germany they are soaps from other companies? She usually does not even look at them. She reaches out for that one soap. Why? What does she see? What does she want? Try to work on this. Incidentally, the best way to find out is to ask customers not by questionnaire but by sitting down with them and finding out. The most successful retailer I know in the world is not one of the big retail chains. It is somebody in Ireland, a small country about the size of Slovenia. This particular company is next door to Great Britain with its very powerful supermarkets, and all of them are also in Ireland. And yet this little company has maybe 60 percent of the sandwich market. What do they do? Well, the answer is that the boss spends two days each week in one of his stores serving customers, from the meat counter to the checkout counter, and is the one who puts stuff into bags and carries it out to the shoppers’ automobiles. He knows what the customers pay for. But let me go back to the beginning: The place to start managing is not in the plant, and it is not in the office. You start with managing yourself by finding out your own strengths, by placing yourself where your strengths can produce results and making sure that you set the right example (which is basically what ethics is all about), and by placing your people where their strengths can produce results.
Peter F. Drucker (The Drucker Lectures : Essential Lessons on Management, Society and Economy)
MAY 10, THE day that Roosevelt issued his nonresponse to Churchill’s plea for U.S. belligerency, German bombers returned to London. As devastating as the previous raids had been, none came close to the savagery and destructiveness of this new firestorm. By the next morning, more than two thousand fires were raging out of control across the city, from Hammersmith in the west to Romford in the east, some twenty miles away. The damage to London’s landmarks was catastrophic. Queen’s Hall, the city’s premier concert venue, lay in ruins, while more than a quarter of a million books were incinerated and a number of galleries destroyed at the British Museum. Bombs smashed into St. James’s Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and Parliament. The medieval Westminster Hall, though badly damaged, was saved, but not so the House of Commons chamber, the scene of some of the most dramatic events in modern British history. Completely gutted by fire, the little hall, with its vaulted, timbered ceiling, was nothing but a mound of debris, gaping open to the sky. Every major railroad station but one was put out of action for weeks, as were many Underground stations and lines. A third of the streets in greater London were impassable, and almost a million people were without gas, water, and electricity. The death toll was even more calamitous: never in London’s history had so many of its residents—1,436—died in a single night.
Lynne Olson (Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour)
This kind of war was full of fascinating thrills. It was not like the Great War. Nobody expected to be killed. Here and there in every regiment or battalion, half a dozen, a score, at the worst thirty or forty, would pay forfeit; but to the great mass of those who took part in the little wars of Britain in those vanished and light-hearted days, this was only a sporting element in a splendid game. Most of us were fated to se a war where the hazards were reversed, where death was the general expectation and severe wounds were counted as lucky escapes, where whole brigades were shorn away under the steel flail of artillery and machine-guns, where the survivors of one tornado knew that they would certainly be consumed in the next or the next after that. Everything depends upon the scale of events. We young men who lay down to sleep that night within three miles of 60,000 well-armed fanatical Dervishes, expecting every moment their violent onset or inrush and sure of fighting at latest with the dawn – we may perhaps be pardoned if we thought we were at grips with real war.
Winston S. Churchill (My Early Life, 1874-1904)
Adding to this uninhibited atmosphere was the heady new sense of freedom and independence experienced by young British women. Having grown up in a society in which few women worked outside the home or went to college, they had been expected to remain primly in life’s background and to demand little more than the satisfaction of having served their husbands and raised their children. That staid and predictable existence was shattered, however, when Britain declared war on Germany. Hundreds of thousands of women, even debutantes like Pamela who had never so much as boiled an egg, signed up for jobs in defense industries or enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and other military units. As one former deb recalled, “It was a liberation, it set me free.” Women began wearing slacks. They appeared in public without stockings. They smoked, they drank, and they had sex outside marriage—more often and with fewer qualms and less guilt than their mothers and grandmothers. The few American women in the capital were infected with a similar sense of freedom. “London was a Garden of Eden for women in those years,” recalled Time-Life correspondent Mary Welsh, “a serpent dangling from every tree and street lamp, offering tempting gifts, companionship, warm if temporary affections.” Pamela
Lynne Olson (Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour)
The ancient DNA revolution documented that the first farmers even in the most remote reaches of Europe—Britain, Scandinavia, and Iberia—had very little hunter-gatherer-related ancestry.
David Reich (Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past)
In the meantime, the Germans established numerous bridgeheads on the south bank of the Somme, to be used when the southward advance began. Panzers invested Boulogne on May 22nd, and on May 23rd, the British evacuated their troops at midnight. The French garrison surrendered at noon two days later on May 25th, recognizing their utterly hopeless position. The British government ordered an evacuation of Dunkirk on May 26th, but the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and the French forces accompanying them could not escape that easily, however. Near catastrophe struck on May 28th when the Belgians surrendered to Germany, opening a colossal gap in the Allied lines. King Leopold III, showing consistency of character at least if not moral courage, informed the British and French of his planned capitulation only hours prior to the actual surrender, leaving them with practically no time to prepare for its disastrous military consequences. The action earned Leopold III such sobriquets as “King Rat” and “the Traitor King,” nicknames he did little to disprove when he evinced more willingness to negotiate with Hitler for restoration of Belgian independence than he had shown in dealing with France and Britain, which sought to defend Belgium's freedom in the first place. British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill blasted the Belgian monarch's abrupt surrender in a detailed speech summarizing the repercussions: “The surrender of the Belgian Army compelled the British at the shortest notice to cover a flank to the sea more than 30 miles in length. Otherwise all would have been cut off, and all would have shared the fate to which King Leopold had condemned the finest army his country had ever formed. So in doing this and in exposing this flank, as anyone who followed the operations on the map will see, contact was lost between the British and two out of the three corps forming the First French Army.” (Churchill, 2013, 174).
Charles River Editors (Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian: The Lives and Careers of Nazi Germany’s Legendary Tank Commanders)
A day before the November 2015 Paris attacks, President Obama was feeling a little more hopeful about the war against the Islamic State. Noting that the caliphate hadn’t made any significant territorial gains in some time, Obama said it had been “contained.”23 As we know now, this contention was obscenely countered the very next day. Terrorism has also come of age with the millennial generation. The Islamic State of today is miles from the Al Qaeda it grew out of. Its supporters aren’t coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan anymore. They’re living in Belgium, France, Britain, and, as we saw with the attacks in San Benardino and Orlando, even the United States. They’re not refugees or illegal immigrants. They’re legal, passport-carrying, Western-born or naturalized citizens of our countries. So what does bombing them do now? The more you bomb over there, the more the appeal grows over here. And there’s proof of that from the last three wars: the Islamic State itself is the visible result. ISIS isn’t just a geographical entity. There are kids sitting across Western countries, right here in our cities and neighborhoods, being inspired and groomed by the group’s wide-ranging social media expertise and slickly produced propaganda videos as we speak. These kids are not coming here from Syria. They’ve always been here.
Ali A. Rizvi (The Atheist Muslim: A Journey from Religion to Reason)
Strength, moreover, could have been used in righteous causes with little risk of bloodshed. In their loss of purpose, in their abandonment even of the themes they most sincerely espoused, Britain, France, and most of all, because of their immense power and impartiality, the United States, allowed conditions to be gradually built up which led to the very climax they dreaded most. They have only to repeat the same well-meaning, short-sighted behaviour towards the new problems which in singular resemblance confront us to-day to bring about a third convulsion from which none may live to tell the tale.
Winston S. Churchill (The Gathering Storm (Second World War))
Seven
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The coffee served in the coffeehouses wasn’t necessarily very good coffee. Because of the way coffee was taxed in Britain (by the gallon), the practice was to brew it in large batches, store it cold in barrels, and reheat it a little at a time for serving. So coffee’s appeal in Britain had less to do with being a quality beverage than with being a social lubricant. People went to coffeehouses to meet people of shared interests, gossip, read the latest journals and newspapers—a brand-new word and concept in the 1660s—and exchange information of value to their lives and business. Some took to using coffeehouses as their offices—as, most famously, at Lloyd’s Coffee House on Lombard Street, which gradually evolved into Lloyd’s insurance market.
Bill Bryson (At Home: A Short History of Private Life)
the favourite activity is drinking a lot of beer and the second is throwing it up again)
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Isn’t it amazing how many people in the world hate you? Most of them you will never even meet, and yet they really don’t like you at all. All the people who write software at Microsoft hate you, and so do most of the people who answer phones at Expedia.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
For Allan’s father, the whole thing had acquired a personal dimension since Lenin had forbidden all private ownership of land the very day after Allan’s father had purchased 130 square feet on which to grow Swedish strawberries. “The land didn’t cost more than four rubles, but they won’t get away with nationalizing my strawberry patch,” wrote Allan’s father in his very last letter home, concluding: “Now it’s war!” And war it certainly was—all the time. In just about every part of the world, and it had been going on for several years. It had broken out about a year before little Allan had got his errand-boy job at Nitroglycerin Ltd. While Allan loaded his boxes with dynamite, he listened to the workers’ comments on events. He wondered how they could know so much, but above all he marveled at how much misery grown men could cause. Austria declared war on Serbia. Germany declared war on Russia. Then, Germany conquered Luxembourg a day before declaring war on France and invading Belgium. Great Britain then declared war on Germany, Austria declared war on Russia, and Serbia declared war on Germany. And on it went. The Japanese joined in, as did the Americans. In the months after the Czar abdicated, the British took Baghdad for some reason, and then Jerusalem. The Greeks and Bulgarians started to fight each other while the Arabs continued their revolt against the Ottomans…. So “Now it’s war!” was right.
Jonas Jonasson (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared)
Formerly there were two ways. One was to take the ferry. This is the way I came on my first visit, and I have to say it was strange. All the passengers – and there weren’t many – went below and lay down on whatever horizontal surface they could find. Many covered their faces with their coats, as if hiding. Just after we left port, the snack bar closed. All this seemed a little odd, and then we hit the open sea and we began to roll and pitch in a weirdly restrained way. I am not the most experienced of sailors, but I have been on a few boats in my time – including once through the Beagle Channel in South America, which isn’t so much a water passage as a trampoline for boats – and I can say that I had never encountered anything quite like this. It wasn’t rough, but just slowly, cumulatively, peculiarly unsettling. The problem, as it was explained to me later, is that the ferry must have a flat bottom to get in among the shallows around St Mary’s, the main port of the Scillies, but this means that it sits on the water like a cork, which guarantees a lot of motion even on the smoothest days. In rough weather, I was told, you will often have the novel experience of being sick on the ceiling.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
But then, I suppose, that is the thing about the internet. It is just an accumulation of digital information, with no brains and no feelings – just like an IT person, in fact.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The payments system is the heart of the financial services industry, and most people who work in banking are engaged in servicing payments. But this activity commands both low priority and low prestige within the industry. Competition between firms generally promotes innovation and change, but a bank can gain very little competitive advantage by improving its payment systems, since the customer experience is the result more of the efficiency of the system as a whole than of the efficiency of any individual bank. Incentives to speed payments are weak. Incrementally developed over several decades, the internal systems of most banks creak: it is easier, and implies less chance of short-term disruption, to add bits to what already exists than to engage in basic redesign. The interests of the leaders of the industry have been elsewhere, and banks have tended to see new technology as a means of reducing costs rather than as an opportunity to serve consumer needs more effectively. Although the USA is a global centre for financial innovation in wholesale financial markets, it is a laggard in innovation in retail banking, and while Britain scores higher, it does not score much higher. Martin Taylor, former chief executive of Barclays (who resigned in 1998, when he could not stop the rise of the trading culture at the bank), described the state of payment systems in this way: ‘the systems architecture at the typical big bank, especially if it has grown through merger and acquisition, has departed from the Palladian villa envisaged by its original designers and morphed into a gothic house of horrors, full of turrets, broken glass and uneven paving.’6
John Kay (Other People's Money: The Real Business of Finance)
paradise for people who look as if they have just stepped out of a Barbour catalogue.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
It was interesting, I thought, that the memorial to Tip was grander than the memorial to the men who took part in the dam-busters raids, but then I remembered that this was England and Tip was a dog.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
There isn't a landscape in the world that is more artfully worked, more lovely to behold, more comfortable to be in, than the countryside of Great Britain. It is the world's largest park, its most perfect accidental garden.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Boxing Day. Country pubs. Saying 'you're the dog's bollocks' as an expression of endearment or admiration. Jam roly-poly with custard Ordnance Survey maps I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Cream teas The shipping forecast The 20p piece June evenings, about 8pm Smelling the sea before you see it Villages with ridiculous names like Shellow Bowells and Nether Wallop
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
The number of chemicals in use in the developed world was more than 82,000 at the last count, and most of them – 86 per cent, according to one estimate – have never been tested for their effects on humans.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Do you know,” he said, “it’s twenty years since you wrote Notes from a Small Island?” (This was my first book about Britain. It did awfully well there.) “Twenty years?” I replied, amazed at how much past one can accumulate without any effort at all.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)
an Empire-less Britain would be just a ‘cold and unimportant little island where we should all have to work very hard and live mainly on herring and potatoes’.
Niall Ferguson (Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World)
Of the rise of this singular people few authentic records appear to exist. It is, however, probable that they represent a later wave of that race, whether true Sudras, or a later wave of immigrants from Central Asia, which is found farther south as Mahratta; and perhaps they had, in remote times, a Scythian origin like the earlier and nobler Rajputs. They affect Rajput ways, although the Rajputs would disdain their kinship; and they give to their chiefs the Rajput title of "Thakur," a name common to the Deity and to great earthly lords, and now often used to still lower persons. So much has this practice indeed extended, that some tribes use the term generically, and speak of themselves as of the "Thakur" race. These, however, are chiefly pure Rajputs. It is stated, by an excellent authority, that even now the Jats "can scarcely be called pure Hindus, for they have many observances, both domestic and religious, not consonant with Hindu precepts. There is a disposition also to reject the fables of the Puranic Mythology, and to acknowledge the unity of the Godhead." (Elliot's Glossary, in voce "Jat.") Wherever they are found, they are stout yeomen; able to cultivate their fields, or to protect them, and with strong administrative habits of a somewhat republican cast. Within half a century, they have four times tried conclusions with the might of Britain. The Jats of Bhartpur fought Lord Lake with success, and Lord Combermere with credit; and their "Sikh" brethren in the Panjab shook the whole fabric of British India on the Satlaj, in 1845, and three years later on the field of Chillianwala. The Sikh kingdom has been broken up, but the Jat principality of Bhartpur still exists, though with contracted limits, and in a state of complete dependence on the British Government. There is also a thriving little principality — that of Dholpur — between Agra and Gwalior, under a descendant of the Jat Rana of Gohad, so often met with in the history of the times we are now reviewing (v. inf. p. 128.) It is interesting to note further, that some ethnologists have regarded this fine people as of kin to the ancient Get¾, and to the Goths of Europe, by whom not only Jutland, but parts of the south-east of England and Spain were overrun, and to some extent peopled. It is, therefore, possible that the yeomen of Kent and Hampshire have blood relations in the natives of Bhartpur and the Panjab. The area of the Bhartpur State is at present 2,000 square miles, and consists of a basin some 700 feet above sea level, crossed by a belt of red sandstone rocks. It is hot and dry; but in the skilful hands that till it, not unfertile; and the population has been estimated at near three-quarters of a million. At the time at which our history has arrived, the territory swayed by the chiefs of the Jats was much more extensive, and had undergone the fate of many another military republic, by falling into the hands of the most prudent and daring of a number of competent leaders. It has already been shown (in Part I.) how Suraj Mal, as Raja of the Bhartpur Jats, joined the Mahrattas in their resistance to the great Musalman combination of 1760. Had his prudent counsels been followed, it is possible that this resistance would have been more successful, and the whole history of Hindustan far otherwise than what it has since been. But the haughty leader of the Hindus, Sheodasheo Rao Bhao, regarded Suraj Mal as a petty landed chief not accustomed to affairs on a grand scale, and so went headlong on his fate.
H.G. Keene (Fall of the Moghul Empire of Hindustan)
In 1871, much of the city of Chicago was on fire, hundreds of people died, and four square miles of the city burned to the ground. The Great Chicago Fire was one of the worst disasters in America during the nineteenth century. One Chicago resident, Horatio Spafford, was a good friend of D. L. Moody and a man who lived out his faith. Despite great personal loss in property and assets, Horatio and his wife, Anna, dedicated themselves to helping the people of Chicago who had become impoverished by the fire. After years of hard work helping others recover from their losses, the Spaffords decided to take a well-earned vacation to help Moody during one of his evangelistic crusades in Great Britain. Anna and their four daughters went on ahead while Horatio planned on joining them in a few days after tending to some unfinished business matters. One night en route, the ship that Anna and the girls were traveling on collided with another ship and sank within minutes. Anna and the girls were thrown into the black waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and only Anna survived. As hard as she tried, she could not save even one of her daughters. Anna was found unconscious, floating on a piece of wreckage. After her rescue, she sent a heartrending telegram to Horatio in Chicago that simply said, “Saved alone.” Horatio boarded the next ship to Europe to be reunited with his wife. As he was en route, the captain called Horatio to the bridge when they reached the spot where his daughters had drowned. As Horatio stood looking out into the blackness of the sea, heartbroken and no doubt with tears running down his face, with only his faith sustaining him, he penned the words to one of the greatest hymns ever written: “It Is Well with My Soul.” When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul Chorus It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul! My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! How can a man who has just lost his four little girls praise the Lord? Where does a person get that kind of strength? The answer: by being deeply rooted in the Word of God. Horatio Spafford was a man of the Word, so when tragedy stuck, he could face it with strength and confidence. The centrality of God’s Word plays a critical role in the life of every believer, and this emphasis serves as the Big Idea throughout Psalms 90—150.
Warren W. Wiersbe (Be Exultant (Psalms 90-150): Praising God for His Mighty Works)
Key to their deeper understanding is the coinage. When some numismatists look at the coins circulating in Britain in the middle of the first century BC, they spot a clean break. After the Roman invasion of 54 BC the old Celtic coins disappear and are replaced with new – suggesting one hierarchy had been replaced by another. In his wonderfully readable Britannia: The Creation of a Roman Province, John Creighton identifies three ways in which the new coins differ from the old. Firstly there is an abrupt change in the familiar depictions of a human head on one side and a horse on the other. After Caesar’s time in Britain, the imagery suddenly mimics that of coins minted in Gaul. The second change is in the amount of gold in gold coins: where once the gold content was highly variable, suddenly it became carefully regulated and consistent. Thirdly, says Creighton, hoards featuring both old and new coinages are rare – making it likely that the old coins were withdrawn and replaced wholesale by the new version. ‘The combination of these three changes in the gold coinage, all happening at the same time, suggests a radical restructuring of the political arrangement of south-east Britain at this date, even though otherwise in the archaeology we see little alteration,’ he wrote. ‘A recoinage across all of south-east Britain required the mobilisation of a significant degree of power or authority.’ Creighton infers the ‘radical restructuring of the political arrangement’ went further than just issuing new coins. He believes the Romans also installed two Gallic aristocrats as kings of two new territories, one south of the Thames and one in the east.
Weidenfeld & Nicolson (A History of Ancient Britain)
Mithras is a Persian light and warrior god adopted by the Roman army as their tutelary deity.  His name means “Friend”.  Mithras was the emissary of Ahura Mazda, the supreme power of good, who battled Ahriman, the supreme evil.  Mithras slew the divine bull to release its life-giving blood into the earth, and creatures that served Ahriman like scorpions and serpents tried to stop this happening. Mithras was often depicted with a pointed cap, and a number of reliefs show him in the act of slaying the bull.  As a solar god he was directly equated to Sol Invictus by the Romans, as can be seen from inscriptions.[469]  Twelve inscriptions to him have been found to date.[470] There were seven grades in the Mithraic mysteries, which were only open to free men.  The Mithraic cult was highly tolerant of other deities, as is evidences by depictions of other gods in the shrines.  Also as the soldier god, priesthoods were known to bring their statues to the Mithraea (temples) for protection when danger threatened. The Mithraea were usually small, and have preserved their mysteries to an extent as little writing remains from them.  A relief from Housesteads (Northumberland) shows Mithras bearing a sword and spear rising from an egg, surrounded by a hoop depicting the signs of the zodiac.  A silver amulet found at St Albans similarly depicts Mithras rising from a pile of stones.  More commonly images on altars showed him sacrificing a bull, such as at Rudchester (Northumberland), Carrawburgh (Northumberland) and the London Mithraeum.  There are now five known Mithraea in Britain, those at Caernarvon, Carrawburgh, Housesteads, London and Rudchester.  Of these all were purely military apart from the London Mithraea. 
David Rankine (The Isles of the Many Gods: An A-Z of the Pagan Gods & Goddesses of Ancient Britain Worshipped During the First Millenium Through to the Middle Ages)
John Prescott, during the last Labour government, had a mad plan, called the Pathfinder Initiative, to tear down 400,000 homes, mostly Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses, in the north of England. Prescott claimed, on no evidence, that house prices there were too low because of an oversupply of stock. Mercifully, Prescott didn’t have the brains or focus to complete the plan, but he still managed to spend £2.2 billion of public money and bulldoze thirty thousand houses before he was stopped. So at precisely the time that one part of the government was talking about the need to build hundreds of thousands of new homes, another part of the same government was trying to tear down as many of them as it could. You simply can’t get madder than that. Nowhere were Prescott’s demented ambitions more keenly pursued than on Merseyside where 4,500 houses, nearly all comfortably lived in and doing no harm, were
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
I really do think Britain had attained something approaching perfection just around the time of my arrival. It’s a funny thing because Britain was in a terrible state in those days. It limped from crisis to crisis. It was known as the Sick Man of Europe. It was in every way poorer than now. Yet there were flowerbeds on roundabouts, libraries and post offices in every village, cottage hospitals in abundance, council housing for all who needed it. It was a country so comfortable and enlightened that hospitals maintained cricket pitches for their staff and mental patients lived in Victorian palaces. If we could afford it then, why not now? Someone needs to explain to me how it is that the richer Britain gets the poorer it thinks itself.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
And now here I was in McDonald's again for the first time since my earlier fracas. I vowed to behave myself, but McDonald's is just too much for me. I ordered a chicken sandwich and a Diet Coke. 'Do you want fries with that?' the young man serving me asked. I hesitated for a moment, and in a pained but patient tone said: 'No. That's why I didn't ask for fries, you see.' 'We're just told to ask like,' he said. 'When I want fries, generally I say something like, "I would like some fries, too, please." That's the system I use.' 'We're just told to ask like,' he repeated. 'Do you need to know the other things I don't want? It is quite a long list. In fact, it is everything you serve except for the two things I asked for.' 'We're just told to ask like,' he repeated yet again, but in a darker voice, and deposited my two items on a tray and urged me, without the least hint of sincerity, to have a nice day. I realized that I probably wasn't quite ready for McDonald's yet.
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain)
Inside, I felt like such an amateur, so young and inexperienced, yet somehow I must have looked competent as I gently lowered her wriggling baby into the water, taking care to hold the little girl under her arms and keep her face out of the water.
Linda Fairley (The Midwife's Here! The Enchanting True Story of One of Britain's Longest Serving Midwives)
When the conductor Simon Rattle left the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to take over the Berlin Philharmonic in 2001, he was released from the usual circumspection incumbent upon those in receipt of Arts Council funds: ‘Shame on the Arts Council for knowing so little, for being such amateurs, for simply turning up with a different group of people every few years with no expertise, no knowledge of history, to whom you have to explain everything, where it came from and why it is there, who don’t listen and who don’t care. Shame on them!’35
Robert Hewison (Cultural Capital: The Rise and Fall of Creative Britain)
A young British lieutenant remembered the scene emotionally. “The gang was to be sold in families,” he wrote. “The Negroes, with their wives and little ones, were standing huddled together in a crowd behind the platform on which each family was exposed for sale in turn, according to a printed program.” Many of the slaves “seemed indifferent, and a stout Negress or two looked, occasionally, even defiant; but there were several mothers with their babies at their breasts (and even black innocence and helplessness are pretty and interesting) sobbing bitterly.” He continued: “The auctioneer explained the conditions of sale to the company, and stated that all the niggers were to be considered sound, unless anything was said to the contrary.
Christopher Dickey (Our Man in Charleston: Britain's Secret Agent in the Civil War South)
There is more to America’s past than appears on the surface. A strange unrest is apparent among many of the younger historians and archaeologists of the colleges and universities, a sense that somehow a very large slice of America’s past has mysteriously vanished from our public records. For how else can we explain the ever-swelling tally of puzzling ancient inscriptions now being reported from nearly all parts of the United States, Canada, and Latin America?...These inscriptions are written in various European and Mediterranean languages in alphabets that date from 2,500 years ago, and they speak not only of visits by ancient ships, but also of permanent colonies of Celts, Basques, Libyans, and even Egyptians – Barry Fell (America BC) Lewis Spence, one of the latest writers on the subject, concludes that the Toltec and Maya civilizations never originated on American soil but appeared there full blown, with a well-defined art and system of hieroglyphic writing which possesses affinities with the Egyptian – Comyns Beaumont (The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain) There seems little doubt but that the Irish had intercourse with America far earlier than any definite records, nor would it be surprising in view of the comparative proximity of the two – ibid As to so-called Druidical monuments, no argument can be drawn thence, as to the primary seat of this mysticism, since they are to be seen nearly all over the world – James Bonwick (Irish Druids and Old Irish Religions, 1894)
Michael Tsarion (The Irish Origins of Civilization, Volume One)
The woman who engaged him had no idea that her gardener was one of the most distinguished scientists in Britain until a friend came for tea one day and, looking out the window, casually asked: “My dear, why is the Nobel laureate Sir Lawrence Bragg pruning your hedges?” Late
Bill Bryson (The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island)