Filed: History

Dulce et decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares, we turned our backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind Read more ›››

The Last Laugh

‘O Jesus Christ! I’m hit,’ he said; and died. Whether he vainly cursed or prayed indeed, The Bullets chirped—In vain, vain, vain! Machine-guns chuckled—Tut-tut! Tut-tut! And the Big Gun guffawed.

Another sighed,—‘O Mother,—mother,—Dad!’ Then smiled at nothing, childlike, being dead. And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud Leisurely gestured,—Fool! And the splinters spat, and tittered. Read more ›››

Time Commanders

The great thing about catch-up tv is that you can, well…, catch-up on the tv you’ve missed and last night I caught up with Time Commanders which started a new series this week.

For the uninitiated, Time Commanders pits two teams against each other in a recreation of historic battles, some famous, some less so, using the same game engine that you’ll find in computer games like Total War. Read more ›››

The Road to Hell

Back in 1995, the BBC broadcasted a radio dramatisation of Len Deighton’s novel Bomber, the story of a fictional saturation bombing raid on Germany in 1943.

It was cleverly segmented so that the different sections of the play were broadcast at the same time of day as the drama, so the pre-raid preparations were on in the afternoon, the raid in the evening and the denouement at 11:30pm. Read more ›››

Cottonopolis

When I was working on my family history, the one industry that cropped up time and again under the ‘occupation’ column of the census was cotton.

Youngsters were the ‘cotton piecers’, the ridiculously dangerous job of scampering among the clattering machinery picking up waste cotton, while women tended to be ‘cardroom hands’ which could be equally injurious to health. Read more ›››

W is for William Walker

The word filibuster is usually used to refer to someone obstructs a legislative assembly by talking too much, but it has an earlier meaning – a person engaging in unauthorized warfare against a foreign state.

And the greatest filibuster of them all by this definition was the American, William Walker, regarded by some as a hero, for others he is a symbol of American imperialism. Read more ›››

Character Mapping

I’ve always been a fan of maps – they’re beautiful things, carefully crafted by the cartographer – and for preference, the older a map is the better because it tells you as much about history as geography.

What with Google Maps, SatNavs and the like, we seem to have lost our way with maps these days. Which is ironic when you think about it. Read more ›››

Swan With Two Necks

Of all the sad changes that modern has brought, and there are many to offset the good, one of the saddest is the passing of the traditional public house.

It isn’t so long ago that there was a pub on every street corner and several in between. They were as much a part of the social fabric of the country as the church or the factory, and all they had to do was serve beer, provide a dart board, a pack of cards for entertainment and a packet of crisps for the hungry. Read more ›››

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