Oradour-sur-Glane and the problem of remembrance

In June 1944, a Waffen-SS unit rounded up the inhabitants of a village in the middle of nowhere to effect revenge for resistance operations – in an entirely different but similar-sounding village – and killed over 600 by shooting or burning villagers alive. Men were herded with bulltets into barns, which were set alight. Women and children were driven into the church, which was torched. One (woman) managed to escape: 452 died.

After the war, de Gaulle’s government decreed that the village should not be rebuilt, but should become a permanent memorial to French suffering under the Nazis. The village was rebuilt down the road, and the burnt, wrecked original Oradour is now a museum, with a visitor centre opened by Jacques Chirac. Its signs frequently name villagers ‘martyred’ here, and, indeed, the whole place is le Village Martyr (the martyred village).

There is no doubt that the sights here are thought-provoking: I myself was moved by the bell, whose brass had bubble out to envelop the clapper and holdings in a mangled mess on the floor. But I was even more affected by the other visitors to the church who, talking volubly to each other (did they see the sign asking for silence?), passed it by in order to take a snapshot of the roofless nave.

Pondering the purpose of this museum, and the wisdom of de Gaulle in not rebuilding the village, but preserving this scar, I cannot help feeling disquieted by the museum’s existence.

The purpose of memorials such as this, or such as the numerous Holocaust memorials, is, of course, that we should remember and reflect upon these dreadful inhumanities and help prevent their occurrence again. We should feel so emotionally moved and repelled by these events that, like a child burning its finger on a flame, we will never do them again. But this does not work. First, only those receptive to being moved will be moved: these are the more humane, sensitive types who would be unlikely to mete out cruelty. Those affected by memorials are self-selecting – apart from organised group trips (schools, etc.): the only people who visit them are those who already think the events abhorrent. Those who are capable of or have a tendency to cruelty simply would not dream of visiting such a memorial.

Secondly, most people – even those who are moved by memorial – are capable of immence complacency and cowardice. How many people would put their own life at risk to save another, or to speak their opinions if those opinions were unfashionable or dangerous? It has been shown time and again that complacency is the oxygen for the flame of violence and oppression, as Pastor Niemöller famously reflected. Mark Fisher more recently pointed out, in Capitalist Realism: is there no alternative?, that ‘morality has been replaced by feeling’:  without analytical back-up, morals merely become what is pleasurable.

Another problem with the emotional reaction to events is the industry of victimhood. Victimhood is a negative, reactionary, exclusive state of being. It worries old wounds and, in so doing, creates new ones. It panders to eye-for-eye desires for vengeance, ‘exceptionalising’ the perpetrator and the perpetrated against. It also particularises the general. The massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane, while horrid, was – is – not exceptional. Plenty of other inhumanities were perpetrated during the Second World War – the British bombing of Dresden; the US bombing of Nagasaki; the famine in Bengal caused by the white British saving their own skins at the expense of millions of locals. There is, in the Oradour museum, a series of photographs about the Rwandan genocide (an event allowed by post-colonial paralysis and global complacency), but curiously no mention of the 1961 Paris massacre, where French police beat and drowned in the Seine over 40 Algerians protesting (peacefully). No number of Holocaust memorials has stopped Zionist extremists from committing all sorts of inhumanities to Palestinian Muslims and Christians. Victimhood has not served to propagate compassion and siblinghood: it has sow division and discord. Exceptionalising events and victims does nothing to attack hatred and extremism.

Exceptionalisation takes another form, too: it forever associates a certain place with a certain event – even though for most of its existence, that event has been no part of the place. For me, as a mediaeval historian and musician, Flanders means rich tapestries, fabulous portraits and the music of Dufay, Ockeghem and Josquin. For my teenage pupils, it inevitably means trenchfoot and German aggression. Since they go on, also inevitably, to study the rise of the Nazis, a positive image of Germany makes little impact on much of British youth. This has been the case for the whole of my school career – even as a pupil myself – and I suspect that part of the Brexit vote can be blamed on (history) teachers’ failure to promote a more interesting and varied picture of Europe, and releasing pupils ill-equipped to reject the views of, for example, the Daily Hate Mail. Oradour-sur-Glane could be remembered positively – as a spot rich in fishing and wildlife; as a place where life returned again, undaunted by its hideous setback. But its ruin is preserved as in aspic, and the inoffensive-but-homogeneous new Oradour-sur-Glane has itself been all but killed by the effects of centralisation and capitalism. Like many English cities, what the post-war period has done to communities such as Oradour is perhaps worse even than what wartime did.

There was a party of French school children wandering around; I – having embarrassingly inadequate French – did not ask them what they made of it all. They were a well-behaved bunch, but it did seem more like a day off school than an experience which should be life-enhancing and enriching (two positive words, to suggest the increase of a humane understanding). Nor did I question any of them about their attitudes to Germany and the rest of Europe. I do not know what region they were from, but, as my friend and guide remarked, the Limousin ‘voted le Pen.’ Despite such a memorial of the perils of divisive nationalism, we are plunging once more into divisive nationalism.

Trinity Hospital

Just doing a little research on Trinity Kirk and Hospital, Edinburgh.  Founded in 1462; demolished in 1848 to make way for Waverley Station.  It wasn’t necessary to demolish it, nor to put Waverley exactly there, but that’s Progress.  The railway company apparently left money to re-erect it elsewhere, but Edinburgh Town Council, er, lost it.  Only the apse was rebuilt, and is now tucked away behind the hideousness that is Jury’s Inn.

Lord Cockburn, quondam judge in Edinburgh, was one of the Victorian objectors.  He wrote a rather nice account of the hospital, which looked after 13 bedesmen (elderly folk), as laid out in the founding charter.

“The Hospital is for the benefit, not of common paupers, but of old men and women once in the prospect of a better fate. A few of them are presented by the heirs of donors. All the rest must be burgesses of Edinburgh, or of burgesses’ families; and they are selected by the Town Council. There are generally about thirty-five or forty in the house, and many more out of it. The institution was founded in 1462, by ~Mary of Gueldress; but the building underwent considerable alteration about 1587. It would not be easy to produce any thing meaner than its outside. It consists merely of a respectable common-place house, at right angles to which there runs a long, thin, two-storied building like a long granary-all cased in dingy rough-cast, without any attempt at ornament or proportion. There is a bit of garden about one hundred feet square; but it is only turf surrounded by a gravel walk. An old thorn and an old elm, destined never to be in leaf again, tell of old springs and of old care. And there is a wooden summer-house, which has heard many an old man’s crack, and seen the sun soften many an old man’s wrinkles. But the door is no sooner opened, than antiquity is seen standing within it. Narrow stone stairs, helped out by awkward bits of wooden ones; oak tables of immovable massiveness; high-backed carved chairs with faded tapestry on their seats and elbows; a few strong heavy cabinets; drawers, and leaves, and bolts, and locks, and hinges, once the pride of their inventors, and now exciting a smile at ancient carpentry; passages on miscalculated levels; long narrow halls, and little inaccessible odd-shaped rooms; —these and other vestiges of the primary formation arrest and delight the visitor. All the apartments except four are very small. Of these four, one seems to be their academic grove. It is a long place, apparently for mere lounging; for it contains nothing except a large shelved press, which is the library. This library consists, so far as I can guess by the eye, of about 500 or 600 volumes. Many of them are suitable for the readers; many not. There are several beautiful books of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These, some think, it would be no disrespect to the ancient donors to sell for the purchase of more useful works. The chaplain, however, with a just pride in his antiquities, is shocked at the proposal; and he is right. There is sometimes a good deal of reading among these aged students; at present very little. It comes in fits, like other fashions.

“A second of these long apartments is used as a chapel and banqueting room. There are two long tables, with chairs, and a passage between the tables. The pensioner’s position is the same, whether he is at dinner or at sermon. An old low pulpit stands at the end of the room; and before the pulpit there is a black article, said to be positively John Knox’s sacramental table.

“The third of these rooms seems to extend the whole length of the building. It is about ninety or a hundred feet long, and was originally about thirty or thirty-five feet wide. But its width has been contracted by operations, which have converted it into a city for human beavers. Along one side a range of ten wooden cabins projects into the room. It is just a range of wooden boxes, placed on the floor, along one side of the wall. Each box is about seven feet square, detached from its neighbour, and with its own door and window – all the windows looking into the room. These cabins, each of which houses a pensioner, narrow the room to the extent of their own depth, on the one side. On the opposite side, it is narrowed by a partition reaching from the floor to the ceiling. Between this partition and the outer wall there are two rows of cabins, one above the other. The lower row is entered by doors opening into the long room. The upper row is reached by neat wooden stairs. There are five of these stairs; and most picturesque they are. They project into the room, all to the same extent, probably three feet, and all with the same curve to the left, not unlike outer stairs to hay-lofts. Each of the five leads to a small landing-place, off which are two cabins. There are thus thirty cabins in that room; ten in the form of boxes, on the floor, on one side; and twenty within the partition on the opposite side, ten of which are below and ten above; these last ten reached by the five outside wooden stairs. And between these lines of pigmy palaces there is a space of about fifteen or eighteen feet left free, along the whole length of the room. These human pigeon-holes have immemorially been termed ‘arks’ – a name which, holding ark to mean chest, describes them very correctly. Each ark contains the bed, chair, table, and little mirror, of its single inhabitant, and any other article of comfort or decoration that the occupier may happen to have. They are all neat and comfortable. Several contain chests of drawers; and some are gay with ornament. One duenna had her cupboard, with her own books, and her umbrella hanging from a brass hook, and every ‘coigne of vantage’ graced by shells, and human figures, and trees, and animals – all cut by herself, out of pasteboard, and gloriously painted. Several others have carried with them into these sad though kindly retreats similar articles; plainly once the pride of their better days. The fourth long apartment is lined on one side by another row of cabins; and there is space for an opposite row, if required. Besides these roosts, which, being both the parlour and the bedchamber, are truly the ark of each occupant, there are common rooms, with fires and carpets, where the inmates repair when they want talk, heat, or a social doze. The walls of the chapel are entirely covered with wooden tablets, containing inscriptions in gilt letters on black grounds, immortalizing the memories of the various donors of merks or pounds Scots. The name of many a citizen, illustrious in his day, is there; the title of many a family, once green bay-trees, now dead roots. I observe one donation in 1632; and, no doubt, there are some still older.

“The community is presided over by a chaplain and a governess. The chaplain spends most of his day there, and may reside constantly if he pleases. However, he can never be long absent; for, besides worship twice a day, he has to ask a blessing on all their meals. His drawing-room is scarcely ten feet square. But it is dignified by old chairs, an old table, an old desk, an old mirror, besides books and prints. The little cheerful round incumbent talks so happily of his own position, and so affectionately of every individual pensioner, that a bishopric, nay, even a Scotch kirk, could scarcely increase his delight. The elysium of the queen is fully as tiny, and as old, and as nice. Besides being graced by various achievements of her own needle, it is enlivened by a blue parrot, on a bright perch, and a canary in a brass wire cage, with doors and windows like a cathedral. On my last visit, she insisted on my entering her bedroom-smaller than even the parlour; but what a coverlet of patchwork! Cheerfulness beamed from her face, and pride elated her heart. How cruel that, with such a pair, celibacy is the law of the place! The subjects of these two sovereigns seem to be as happy as age, when combined with final destitution and with the recollection of more hopeful days, can probably ever be. They are decent in their apparel, clean in their domicile, and, so far as a stranger can discover, are kindly used, and kindly thought of. That they are followed into the last asylum that can ever shelter them by grateful recollections, and even by some friendships, as well as by discontent, jealousy, quarrels, and all other passions that cling to the still beating heart, is certain. They are human. They doubtless have their magnates, their disputed principles, their wrongs, intirigues, and factions. The dullness of their day is, no doubt, relieved by occasional dissension and ingratitude. But there is as little of this, I understand, as generally enlivens hospitals. And certainly their bodies are not ill cared for. Every one seems proud of his own ark. They sit in these retreats, and come out, and go in-opening and shutting their own front doors, as if each felt that it was he who had got the state-room.

“One of the present female pensioners is ninety-six. She was sitting beside her own fire. The chaplain shook her kindly by the hand, and asked her how she was. “Very weel-just in my creeping ordinary.” [Another had a book] from Sir John Something; her great friend had been a Lady Something Cunningham; and her spinet was the oldest that had ever been made; to convince me of which she opened it, and pointed exultingly to the year 1776. Neither she, nor the ninety-six year old, was in an ark, but in an ordinary small room. On overhearing my name, she said that she was once at Miss Brandon’s boarding-school in Bristo-street, with a Miss Matilda Cockburn, a “little pretty girl.” I told her that I remembered that school quite well, and that that girl was my sister; and then I added as a joke, that all the girls at that school were said to have been pretty, but all light-headed and much given to flirtation. The tumult revived in the vestal’s veins. Delighted with the imputation, she rubbed her hands together and giggled till she wept, and exclaimed, and protested, and giggled more, and appeared to force back recollections that made her blush…

“This is Trinity Hospital. Time, in its course over Edinburgh, has left no other such picturesque deposit. In a short time the place shall know it no more! But the public will be gratified by a railway station. Trinity College Church too-the last and finest Gothic fragment in Edinburgh, though implored for by about four centuries, will disappear for the accommodation of a railway! An outrage by sordid traders, virtually consented to by a tasteless city, and sanctioned by an insensible Parliament. I scarcely know a more curious instance of ignorant insensibility than the apology that is made for this piece of desecration. It is said that the edifice is to be replaced, exactly as it is, in some better situation. And it is really thought that the Pyramids would remain the Pyramids, or Jerusalem Jerusalem, provided only their materials were replaced in London. Oxford would be Oxford, though in Manchester, if its stones were preserved. These people would remove Pompeii for a railway, and tell us they had applied it to a better purpose in Dundee.”

 

The A Team and Sexism

Alas.  I’ve finished watching series 1 of the A Team.  (I’ve just ordered myself series 2.)  Not only have I been enjoying reliving my youth, but I’ve also been enjoying the excellent scripts, the gorgeous acting (even Mr T gets a little less wooden as time progresses), the splendidly-choreographed shoot-outs where no-one dies, and the car-rolls with no broken necks.  I’ve also been pleasantly surprised at the treatment of female characters.  It must be stressed that, from the pilot episode, the A Team was Hannibal, Face, BA, Murdock AND Amy.  Rumour has it that George Peppard had her ejected midway through series 2 (maybe he was scarred from Audrey Hepburn’s upstaging him in B’fast at Tiffany’s – we all remember her, but he was forgotten).  However, in series 1, she saves their bacon on a number of occasions – one time (in Borneo) by shooting at and setting light to the fuel pile by the ammo store – that Face had failed to light.  She gets them a number of gigs and contacts, and is sometimes their way of communicating with the outside world.  As Murdock sings to her in Black Day at Bad Rock ‘you in the army now’.

Indeed, that episode is a good example of the remarkably un-sexist A Team – remarkably because this was the early ’80s, and this was a series about 4 military commandos.  Not only does Amy get Murdock, but we (and, in particular, Hannibal) meet Doc Sullivan.  Hannibal and Face pitch up with a badly wounded BA and ask for the doctor; she replies that she is the doctor.  After initial scepticism – loudly from BA and aside from Hannibal – the men trust the doctor, and Hannibal is even rather taken with her.  There’s a great exchange when he finds out that she was an army doctor in Vietnam; when she disarms him, she delivers the classic chat-up line, ‘9-millimetres – it’s nice’.  It arguably passes the Bechdel Test – she and Amy talk, and yes, about men, but one man’s just ‘her patient’; and Hannibal leaves the captured gang in her charge.

What a shame, then, that Amy was dropped from later series and that in the box set that I have, there is no picture of her at all.  There are five DVDs. The first has Hannibal’s face; the second, BA’s, the third, Face’s, the fourth, Murdock’s, and the fifth… the truck.  Why not Amy?  This set was produced in the 1990s.  It seems that sexism had a comeback.  We need to return to the more egalitarian early ’80s.

Addendum:  Series 3 – way more stereotypical and sexist…  And 4 and 5.  Really quite terrible by the end…

Nutcases and Terrorism

Darren Osborne has been found guilty of murder and attempted murder.  This makes him a murderer, but a terrorist?  His defence was crackers; his actions were appalling, and show someone of unsound mind and unsounder views.  These views (and actions) were racist and ‘religionist’.  But to label him as a terrorist is wrong.  His actions, certainly, were similar to attacks by terrorist organisations here and elsewhere, and they did cause terror at the time.  However, to be a terrorist, surely you need to fulfil certain criteria, viz:

1) to believe in some end goal.  Osborne, you could say, did – getting rid of Muslims.  Except that this wasn’t his end goal – in fact, it’s clear that he didn’t have an end goal.  His primary intention, apparently, was to kill Corbyn and Khan. He had no plans to murder any more Muslims; he had no plans:  this murder was opportunistic and tactical, not strategic.

2) to belong to some group with that end goal:  not always necessary – a terrorist can work alone – but normal.  He wasn’t a member of the disgraceful far-right parties which still exist. He had no handler, who told him where to be.

3) to work to cause maximum disruption and terror to civil society.  This rather suggests that an organisation is necessary, for some troops will fall in action, and they will need to be replaced by others.  Any attack is also only one battle in a war.  The other vehicle-crowd killings across Europe have all been shown to have Daesh connexions.

Abhorrent as his actions were, this man is a nutcase, not a terrorist.

A Feminist? Wash your mouth out with soap.

My housemate has got a massive pink box of cosmetic soap stuff.  It makes me see red every time I go into the bathroom.  First, there’s the environmental aspect:  the packaging (all that plastic), and the synthetic, petro-chemical-based nastiness that goes into this stuff.  (What’s wrong with soap?  If you didn’t wash yourself with all of that crap, you wouldn’t need to re-condition your skin and hair.)  But then there’s the depressing underlying sexism.

 

 

Let’s unpack the box.  It’s got a real 1950s retro feel to it.  Remember, girls, that in the 1950s, women didn’t have equal pay, couldn’t get mortgages, were not equal in property rights in marriage, abortion was illegal, and so on.  Women were supposed to be in the kitchen.  The 1950s ain’t all bubbles.

Then there’s the pink.  Oh yes, that colour which all women are genetically programmed to love.

Then there’s the slogan:  “You’re irresistible, Glamazing and Incredibubble!”.  Leaving aside the naff puns (couldn’t they have done better?), these words are all to do with looks.  Obvious, you say – this is a cosmetic package.  But the first word ‘irresistible’ shows that women’s chief function still is to attract men.  Nothing has changed since Mary Wollstonecraft wrote her Vindication in the 1790s. ‘Glamazing’:  you can only be a proper woman if you look good.

This pack is for a ‘top to toe body treat’.  Women can only feel whole if they wallow in a bath with lots of foam and look at their skin the whole time.  In the 1950s, women didn’t work – they were housewives (an easy lot) with time on their hands to wallow luxuriantly in a bath paid for by their menfolk.  As Wollstonecraft said,

“I once knew a weak woman of fashion, who was more than commonly proud of her delicacy and sensibility. She thought a distinguishing taste and puny appetite the height of all human perfection, and acted accordingly. I have seen this weak sophisticated being neglect all the duties of life, yet recline with self-complacency on a sofa, and boast of her want of appetite as a proof of delicacy that extended to, or, perhaps, arose from, her exquisite sensibility: for it is difficult to render intelligible such ridiculous jargon. Yet, at the moment, I have seen her insult a worthy old gentlewoman, whom unexpected misfortunes had made dependent on her ostentatious bounty, and who, in better days, had claims on her gratitude. Is it possible that a human creature should have become such a weak and depraved being, if, like the Sybarites, dissolved in luxury, every thing like virtue had not been worn away, or never impressed by precept, a poor substitute it is true, for cultivation of mind, though it serves as a fence against vice?

Such a woman is not a more irrational monster than some of the Roman emperors, who were depraved by lawless power.”

The final item on the list of contents is ‘Sexy Mother Pucker’.  Again, a woeful pun, on a truly horrific phrase.  ‘Motherfucker’, more common in the States, where sexism is more pronounced, is a disgracefully sexist form of abuse.  Do NOT refer to it in a product aimed at women.  This is part of that new strain of ‘feminism’ that says you can embrace your sexy, made-up side and be a feminist.  No, you really can’t.  Feminism is about challenging society’s ideas of what a woman is (and what a man is, come to that).  Not embracing the chains that have shackled women for so many centuries, and painting them pink.

Let’s return to Mary Wollstonecraft.  She lambasted the appalling Rousseau for his comment that “Boys love sports of noise and activity; to beat the drum, to whip the top, and to drag about their little carts: girls, on the other hand, are fonder of things of show and ornament; such as mirrors, trinkets, and dolls; the doll is the peculiar amusement of the females; from whence we see their taste plainly adapted to their destination.”

Wollstonecraft pointed out that girls are

“forced to sit still, play with dolls, and listen to foolish conversations; the effect of habit is insisted upon as an undoubted indication of nature.

In France, boys and girls, particularly the latter, are only educated to please, to manage their persons, and regulate their exterior behaviour; and their minds are corrupted at a very early age, by the worldly and pious cautions they receive, to guard them against immodesty. The very confessions which mere children are obliged to make, and the questions asked by the holy men I assert these facts on good authority, were sufficient to impress a sexual character; and the education of society was a school of coquetry and art. At the age of ten or eleven; nay, often much sooner, girls began to coquet, and talked, unreproved, of establishing themselves in the world by marriage.”

By producing pink, bubbly gifts for girls, we are still educating them only to please, to coquet and to think only of their bodies.

Brexit: a Jacobite Problem

Brexit is irrational.  Not wholly, of course:  the EU is not without problems (especially its predilection for big business).  But it is based on the fears of Popery and invasion from the Continent that have been in the English mentality since 1588.

‘Let’s take back control’ screamed the Faragistas:  the EU is anti-democratic, protectionist, bureaucratic, and into Big Government.  For the moment, we will leave aside the whole immigration problem, although it should be pointed out to the less welcoming populations of the poorer parts of this nation that Brexit will not stop immigration:  it will merely see the exchange of white skins for brown, as we fill the gaps with more Asians and Africans.  We will, instead, ‘unpack’ the above charges, and, hopefully, I will prove to you that these charges are not based on reasonable discourse, but on centuries-old prejudices.

  1. Big, Bureaucratic Government:  yes, the EU is bureaucratic and technocratic.  Modern democracies are, because there has for a couple of centuries now been a general consensus that liberal democracies need governments to look after their people, and not just be a classical-liberal night watchman – although lots of Americans may disagree.  Indeed, we can see our relationship with the Americans on this one:  the British founders of the USA were the ones who didn’t like even the hands-off government of 17th- and 18th-century Britain; their anti-governmentalism is rabid.  Brexiteers are perhaps the descendants of those who were, er, left behind.  For anti-governmental thought, see Robert Nozick.  The modern American Tea Party takes its name from the 18th-century incident that saw tea (an expensive commodity) thrown into the sea in protest at the British government’s taxation policy.  US political thought and behaviour are still stuck in the 18th-century.  So are the Brexiteers’.  As for bureaucracies, the up side is that there are lots of experts working on matters.  I have bureaucrat friends of various sorts, and I’m jolly glad they are there to mitigate the idiocies of short-termist politicians.
  2. Protectionist:  well, yes, that’s a fair-enough charge.  The EU is occasional protectionist.  The protectionist/ free-trade debate was rife in British politics throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, and is why Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations; the 19th-century Corn Laws showed how damaging protectionism could be – they helped cause the Irish Potato Famine.  But some sort of protectionism is not always a bad thing.  Take the ‘banana wars’, where the EU gave Caribbean growers a premium price in order to support small businesses in the face of huge, US-owned South American banana farms.  Those American banana-growers took the EU to the WTO (yes, that’s the WTO that the Brexiteers have so much faith in), and the WTO ruled in favour of the Americans.  Stuff small business – let’s have multi-nationals all the time.  Free trade is a good thing, but not at the expense of the environment – human and more general; thank goodness for EU rules on work and time and rights and environment.  As for protectionism, since the Brexiteers look to the USA for inspiration, let’s see what their President says:  let’s make America great again by imposing all sorts of trade tariffs.  Protectionism comes from the mentalities of the far right and left; I am willing to bet that there are tons of Ukippers who are, at least in private, massive protectionists.
  3. Anti-democratic:  ah yes, this old chestnut.  (See also comments about civil servants above.)  In 1588, British weather defeated the Spanish Armada.  In 1605, Guy Fawkes was found out before he could barbecue MPs.  By the time that James II announced his conversion to Catholicism, Britain (particularly England) was rabidly anti-Catholic.  I write this, by the way, in Lewes, where  ‘No Popery’ is still a slogan once a year (delightfully subverted by the local Catholic church into a series of lectures called ‘Know Popery’).  Catholicism was associated not just with superstition and un-English religion, but with tyranny.  The Reformation had let those middle-Englanders who wanted to be able to read the Bible themselves and make up their own rules about sin do so; they were not to be told by some foreign dignitary how they should worship, in some foreign tongue.  Allied to the Pope were the secular powers of the Holy Roman Empire, Spain and France.  The old antagonism with France, which stretched back to the Norman Conquest, or at least to the time of Henry II, now mixed with the new anti-Catholic strain and became a superbug.  Spain, since 1588, had become a bit of a bogeyman, too.  So when James II ‘came out’, having already married an Italian (Catholic) noblewoman, the British had no choice but to boot him out, for a Catholic monarch would be a tyrant (Charles I was almost a Catholic, and look at him).  During the 18th century, Britain was involved in various wars against the French and the Spanish, and the Franco-Spanish threat to Britain was real enough.  Take the Jacobite rebellion, funded by France.  In 1745, the Archbishop of York told his congregation:  “If these designs should succeed, and Popery and arbitrary power come in upon us, under the influence and direction of these two tyrannical and corrupted Courts [France and Spain], I leave you to reflect what would become of everything that is valuable to us.  We are now blessed under the mild administration of a just and protestant King,” ruling, he continued, within the laws of the British land.  The Archbishop’s words are unquestionable ancestors to Faragism.  Brexiteers have not used the great English slogan of ‘liberty’, but their arguments are based on innate, 18th-century ideals of ‘liberty.’

Brexiteers don’t just hark back to the Land of Hope and Glory, when Britannia ruled the waves and the sun never set on the British Empire.  The Brexiteers’ attitude is full of 18th-century anti-Catholic and anti-Franco-Spanish hysteria.  It is also full of pre-1770s fondness for the American colonies (they would do well to remember that America rebelled against Britain in 1776, and it has been a thorn in Britain’s flesh ever since).  Countries’ mentalities are based on very long-term memories.  Perhaps this is also why Scotland’s majority voted to Remain:  they still remember the Auld Alliance.

While Women still exist, we’ll still have sexism

MPs in sleaze scandal.  Surely not.

I’m fed up with seeing females clad in cocktail dresses, slavered in make-up, with the torture instruments that are popularly know as high heels on their feet, saying how unfair and outrageous it is that men feel that they can grope parts of women’s bodies.  Sisters, how can you not see the irony?  As long as you look like a ‘Woman’, you will be a ‘Woman’, i.e. a second-class human, a weak vessel, a sex-toy.

M-to-F ‘transgender’ beings say they feel like women.  What do they mean by women?  Oh, yes, lo-and-behold:  creatures with make-up, heels, tight dresses and prominent tits.  Are there any M-to-F transgender people who dress in frumpy shoes (those genderless lace-ups which are just called shoes in male-speak), trousers, a shirt and a jacket?  Oh, and short hair and no make-up?  Or, for that matter, any F-to-M transgender types who wear skirts still?  No, because it’s not the fact that we’ve got the wrong dangly bits – it’s the fact that society is still grossly unfair and still discriminates hugely against women.  But we women help it.  Why the hell does T May go about in ridiculous kitten heels?  Why does Clare Balding wear make-up?  Why does the England cricket team wear perfectly normal, neutral, practical clothes on the field and then look like some parody of air-hostesses circa 1980 when off it?  Actually, is the second-to-left a woman?  It’s got short hair and square shoulders.  Maybe it’s a man.  Maybe it was once a man.  Or maybe she’s the most sensible and honest of the lot, who tries to mitigate this hideousness by wearing flat shoes and looking desperately uncomfortable is sexist clothing.  Why the hell are they wearing skirts?  Why aren’t the men’s team?

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Please can some scandal come out about Theresa May fondling some nice young Spad’s balls, or Amber Rudd’s outrageously long list of (young) male lovers?  Or Ruth Davidson’s Wall of Steamy Lesbian Conquests?