Tag Archives: racism

The War on Statues

I’ve used the Statue of Liberty as the header picture as I don’t have many statue pictures and if you’re going to borrow one you may as well borrow one of the best known and most symbolic statues in the world. This, however, is a post about statues in the UK and their history.

Having struggled to make sense of recent events, and tried in vain to to write about it in a suitable way, I am just going to write whatever comes to mind. These are my thoughts – warts and all. That’s a quote from Oliver Cromwell, by the way. He’s on the list of statues suggested for removal.

If people think that removing statues will improve their lives I will let them get on with it. Attempts to modify history are seldom successful, and I suspect the war on statues, particularly the vandalism element, will merely result in more conflict and less progress.

I see that a statue of Baden-Powell is to be taken down out of fear that it may be attacked. As the Bristol Police are refusing to take action over the Colston statue, we could be seeing an open season on statues.

Back in Bristol, a statue of Alfred Fagon, a notable local playwright, has been attacked with bleach in what is seen as a racist attack.

Captain Cook statue – on the list for removal

As Isaac Newton told us, in his Third Law of Motion, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life isn’t quite as tidy as science, and the reaction might be unequal. Look at the growing number of counter-demonstrations as an example.

Having mentioned Isaac Newton, I now have to point out that he was an investor in the South Sea Company and thus profited from slavery in the same way that Thomas Guy did. They want to remove Guy’s statue and rename the hospital, but they seem content to keep using the hospitals he helped to build. I suppose that means we have to pull down Newton’s statue and rename his Laws of Motion. However, I hope we will keep gravity.

If you think that I’m treating a serious subject with undue levity, I will stress that I’m not making light of death or racism, just the nonsense that surrounds and obscures the subject. I’ll leave you with a quote from a proper, serious politician.

“Why was that statue removed in the way that it was removed? Because for 20 years, protesters and campaigners had used every democratic lever at their disposal, petitions, meetings, protests, trying to get elected politicians to act, and they couldn’t reach a consensus and they couldn’t get anything done.”

 

 

And there was me thinking that the point of democracy was that you didn’t just smash things you disagree with. Democracy is rule by majority, and if the majority couldn’t care less then you need to educate us, not resort to violence.

Democracy, as Churchill said, is the worst form of government, apart from all the others, though the protestors don’t seem keen on Churchill either.

Statue of Thomas Paine at Thetford – was it really four years ago that we visited?

 

Historical Fiction, or just Old-Fashioned?

It’s very hard to find a picture of a scruffy old bloke reading a book when you look through the free photo library. This is the closest I could get. Most book readers, according to the free photo library, are well-groomed young women. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

In the last week I have been reading Lord Peter Wimsey novels bought via Amazon and downloaded instantly to my tablet. At 99p each they are reasonable value and available instantly. I’m dubious about paying much more than that for an eBook because it doesn’t reallt feel like you are getting much for your money.

I’ll pay more on the rare occasion I buy a new book or when I buy a reference book, but when I’m buying a book that’s been in print since the 1920s, particularly one that’s now out of copyright, I have a very parsimonious attitude. Any author reading this is probably shuddering at the idea of someone like me representing the future of book-buying. Sorry about that, if you are one of them.

Considering that I’m purchasing the license to read the ‘content’ and that terms and conditions can be altered or terminated at any time without notice I feel comfortable with 99p, but not at £4.99 and £5.99. I can buy a proper book in clean condition for that, and still have something to pass on to a neighbour or a charity shop.

Several of the editions I bought have faulty formatting, but that’s the nature of cheap eBooks. You have to put up with it.

Several of the books feature what we would now consider racism. Whenever you read books from between the wars they always seem to. I’m not qualified to discuss racism, and I’m not sure if Sayers was racist or not. However, the references to Jews and blacks (not necessarily using those words) no doubt mirror the way people talked in those days. It doesn’t necessarily means she was racist, just accurate, but it doesn’t make for comfortable reading. It’s very easy to condemn writers from the 20s and 30s for being racist, and modern commentators often do, so I’ll resist the temptation.

My other concern is that the books contain plot devices I’m not entirely happy with. There is a missing heir (which turns out to be a red herring), an undetectable poison (which turns out not to be a poison) and a case of someone claiming to be his own cousin. It’s getting close to implausible. So is the idea of a middle-aged, possibly elderly, man scaling a building to dispose of a dead body. There are, in case you didn’t know, ‘rules’ about these things. And more here.

There are good bits in the books too, even though, as I get older Wimsey and Bunter are becoming closer and closer to Wooster and Jeeves.

I’ll have to do some proper reviews soon. For now, let’s say that my tastes are more inclined to historical crime fiction than they are to classics of the Golden Age.

Storms and Stuff

It’s very windy this morning, though according to the weather forecast it isn’t a storm. As I lack formal training I can’t actually tell the difference.

Julia’s brother rang us last night to tell us. He’d been in the park next to the mosque shooting in New Zealand yesterday and heard the gunfire.

I wasn’t worried because I’d forgotten he was there. Julia wasn’t worried either, because she hadn’t realised how close to the shooting he was. Now she’s worried. I’m not. Over the years I’ve allowed her to do the worrying. She has more compassion than I do.

Time for work now, but I thought I’d share my brief connection to history.

There is, I feel an irony to the situation where an Australian gunman tries to draw attention to the perils of immigration  in New Zealand. I’m sure the Maori and Aborigines are already aware of the perils of uncontrolled immigration.

As for Trump’s wall, which is in the news again, well if I wasn’t going to work I’d feel compelled to mention that he really should give Texas back to Mexico…