St. David’s Day (Dydd Gwyl Dewi) is the first of the four national days or patron saints’ days in the British calendar. Saint David (Dewi Sant in Welsh) is the only of them to actually hail from the country for which he was canonised. Yet we know very little of a factual nature about his life. Apparently,Continue reading “Where in the World is Wales? Celebrating St David’s Day, 1st March – a retrospective after forty years ‘in exile’.”
Category Archives: railways
Ukraine from Askold to Zelensky: Language, Culture, Art & Architecture, 862-2022.
“The British have not forgotten how the Nazis wiped out Coventry, … bombed forty-one times. They have not forgotten the Luftwaffe’s so-called ‘Moonlight Sonata’, in which the city was under contant air-raids for eleven hours. They have not forgotten how Coventry’s historic centre, how its factories, how St Michael’s Cathedral were destroyed. When they see the missiles hit Kharkiv and damage its historic centre, its factories and the Assumption Cathedral, they remember. … when they recall how Birmingham was bombed, and they see its sister city Zaporizhia under attack, they remember.”
Majesty & A Fall from Grace: The Lives & Times of the Latter-Day Windsors – Part One: Big Days, Budgets & Bigotry 2002-17
Another Royal Fairy Tale Begins – William & Kate, 2002-2011: The sun was coming up over Westminster Abbey on Friday 29th April 2011, and on the Mall, some of the visitors were sleeping on chairs near the road, and others were standing and talking. They came from all over the capital city, as well asContinue reading “Majesty & A Fall from Grace: The Lives & Times of the Latter-Day Windsors – Part One: Big Days, Budgets & Bigotry 2002-17”
Majesty & Grace X: The Reign of Elizabeth Windsor – Winter of Discontent to Golden Jubilee, 1979-2002; Part 2 – The Peace Process & The People’s Princess.
The Sectarian Divide in Belfast & the Peace Process, 1980-98: After the Provisional IRA assassinated Lord Mountbatten on his boat off the Western coast of Ireland in 1979, the mainland bombing campaign went on with attacks on the Chelsea barracks, then Hyde Park bombings, when eight people were killed and fifty-three injured. With hindsight, the emergenceContinue reading “Majesty & Grace X: The Reign of Elizabeth Windsor – Winter of Discontent to Golden Jubilee, 1979-2002; Part 2 – The Peace Process & The People’s Princess.”
Majesty & Grace IX: The Reign of Elizabeth Windsor, 1963-78: Part 1 – Rebellious Britons.
Protest & Planning, 1963-68 – Youth, Vietnam & Grosvenor Square: The 1960s were dramatic years in Britain. Demographic trends, especially the increase in the proportion of teenagers in the population, coincided with economic affluence and ideological experimentation to reconfigure social mores to a revolutionary extent. In 1964, under Harold Wilson, the Labour Party came into power,Continue reading “Majesty & Grace IX: The Reign of Elizabeth Windsor, 1963-78: Part 1 – Rebellious Britons.”
Majesty & Grace VI: The Life & Times of the Windsors, 1945-1952; George VI & The People’s Peace.
Above: British propaganda poster, ‘On to Japan!’, 1945 (The Bridgeman Art Library). Fighting Back in Malaya & Singapore: The State Opening of Parliament, which took place on 15th August 1945, saw a return to the pomp of pre-war years, with thousands of people lining the streets of London as the King and Queen travelled toContinue reading “Majesty & Grace VI: The Life & Times of the Windsors, 1945-1952; George VI & The People’s Peace.”
Majesty & Grace IV: The Lives & Times of the Windsors – The Reign of ‘Albert the Good’ – George VI, 1936-39.
The Deep Despair of the Duke & Duchess: The Duke of York, Albert, and his family had been in Scotland during the days preceding the Abdication Crisis. When the British press broke their self-imposed silence about King Edward’s affair with Mrs Simpson on 3rd December 1936, the Yorks were on their way back to LondonContinue reading “Majesty & Grace IV: The Lives & Times of the Windsors – The Reign of ‘Albert the Good’ – George VI, 1936-39.”
Majesty & Grace II – The Lives & Times of The Windsors; George V & Family, 1921-1936.
1922-23 – Four Royal Weddings: The betrothal of 24-year-old Princess Mary to Viscount Lascelles, 39-year-old millionaire son of the Earl of Harewood, was officially announced at Buckingham Palace on 22 November 1921: On the last day of February 1922, the marriage was held at Westminster Abbey. The Abbey was thrown open to the public afterContinue reading “Majesty & Grace II – The Lives & Times of The Windsors; George V & Family, 1921-1936.”
Faith, Fantasy & Fairy Tales – Tolkien, ‘Jack’ Lewis & ‘The Inklings’, 1926-66: Part Two – ‘Shadowy Abstractions’
There was a good stretch of time between Jack Lewis’s conversion on the way to Whipsnade and his writing of the Tales of Narnia. Throughout this time, while Tolkien was writing his Hobbit stories, Lewis was musing on the physical similarities that men and beasts have in common. This is why he felt that Kenneth Grahame, in The Wind in the Willows, made exactly the right choice in giving his principal character the form of a toad
The Making of an English Mythology; from Reality to Fantasy and back again, 1917-1954: Tolkien’s Creative Years.
Following his recovery from the Somme and ‘trench fever’ on his return from France in 1916, Tolkien was determined to create an entire mythology for England. He had hinted at this during his undergraduate days at Oxford when he studied and wrote of the Finnish ‘Kalevala’:
“I would that we had more of it left – something of the sort that belonged to the English.”
This idea now grew during his recuperation until it reached ‘epic’ proportions. This is how Tolkien expressed it when recollecting many years later:
“Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen), I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large to the cosmogonic to the level of romantic fairy-story – the larger founded on the lesser in contact with the earth, the lesser drawing splendour from the vast backcloths – which I could dedicate simply: to England, to my country. “