Lawrence Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity review

Enough of this Tomfoolery!

On paper, the artist Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) was part of the art establishment – a Royal Academician, a knight of the realm and a member of the Order of Merit, with a lucrative career that brought him fame and substantial financial rewards. Scratch the surface however and you find a Dutchman (born Lourens Alma Tadema), whose artistic career took him from his home country the Netherlands through Belgium and finally to Britain where he spent the last 40 odd years of his life.

The exhibition Lawrence Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity is a comprehensive survey of his life and career and using the Leighton House Museum as a venue was an inspired choice as it gives one an idea and feel of the studio-residences that Alma-Tadema created in London with his family. The ground floor rooms display paintings from the beginning of Alma-Tadema’s career, where his early paintings were heavily…

View original post 1,046 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lest We Forget

A brave and by his own words modest man died last month. His name was Mike Dauncey. He was 97, and so in the language of the battle for hearts and minds that the English call the game of cricket, Dauncey had a “good innings”.


It was so nearly not so. Below is his citation that accompanied his DSO medal for his actions at the Bridge Too Far of Arnhem. (He was recommended for the supreme accolade, the Victoria Cross) but better yet, read the story of his wounding, hospitalisation, capture, escape, the matter-of-fact bravery of his Dutch hosts told in his own words and note once again that characteristic shrug of the shoulders courage of a generation of men that should be celebrated now and forever.

The Citation…

During the action at Arnhem from 20th to 25th September 1944, Lt Dauncey was in command of a party of men defending the guns of the Airlanding Light Regiment RA at Oosterbeek. The position was continually attacked by superior forces of enemy tanks and infantry. On three occasions the enemy overran the sector necessitating a counter attack. Lt Dauncey, on his own initiative, organised and led each sortie with such determination that the positions were regained with heavy loss to the enemy. In the face of heavy small arms and mortar fire he personally attacked machine-gun posts, showing remarkable coolness and complete disregard for his own personal safety. During these attacks he was wounded on three occasions but refused to be evacuated from the area.

On 24th September a more determined attack was made by the enemy using tanks and S.P. guns. Lt Dauncey, whilst leading his men in a further counter attack, was wounded again – losing the sight of one eye. In spite of pain, and handicap of defective vision, he continued to lead his men in a fearless manner thus recapturing the lost ground and inflicting heavy loss to the enemy.

On 25th September the position was subjected to intense fire from an enemy S.P. gun. The houses were set on fire and the order was received to withdraw. By now no anti-tank weapons were available and there was imminent danger of the enemy S.P. gun penetrating the gun positions. Realising this fact, Lt Dauncey, who had remained alone, assaulted the enemy vehicle single-handed with gammon bombs. By his action the critical situation was averted but Lt Dauncey received further injuries which resulted in his capture by the enemy.

The high morale of the men, who had been drawn from many units, was undoubtedly due to the fine example of this officer. Had the enemy broken through this sector, the gun positions would have become untenable and thus unable to support the Airborne Division.

Lt Dauncey’s indomitable courage, initiative, coolness and selfless devotion to duty, in spite of his wounds, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the service.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment




You have to wonder what was the eventual fate of this unfortunate baby girl — though perhaps being given up was the best that could have happened to her, given the alternative that parents often chose.

Infanticide followed by disposing of dead babies around churchyards and other less salubrious out of the way places was common. Distasteful as it may seem, even throwing the little corpses in ‘night soil’ dumps or down sewers happened.

Judgement of such actions from the perspective of today is a nicety that only ‘statue removers’ can afford to make. Grinding poverty, social shaming and consequent loss of employment, coupled with the 19th century’s casual acceptance of child mortality (born of bitter experience) among all families, rich and poor, alters the perspective so greatly that we cannot begin to fathom our ancestors.

For me, I see her as growing up in an orphanage which was clean, healthful and provided her with some life skills. When her time to leave  came in about 1900 she was selected by the Dr Barnardos charity for emigration and a new life in Australia or Canada.

In fact she may even have been your great-granny, the one in the photographs from the 1950s.

New novelists start here…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

First they came for Blair Cottrell, but I was not Blair Cottrell

Worth having a look at the Blair Cottrell case decided in Melbourne yesterday if you have a moment and care about free speech.It does not matter that it occurred on the other side of the world. It does not matter that he was protesting about the building of a mosque in Bendigo. It does not matter that he and his mates did what used to be called Agitprop.

It’s happening everywhere across the Western world. It’s frightening to contemplate there is now a worldwide movement that, for what they believe are the ‘best’ of motives — supporting diversity, just saying ‘no’ to the various ‘-phobes’ inventing ‘safe spaces’ tearing down statuary of white men who were of their time etc — there are groups viciously opposing people like Cottrell and with him destroying free speech. Those people have begun to re-invent the sort of shouting down or silencing by other means contrary opinion of which Hitler, Stalin and Kim Jung-Il would be envious. This is fascism of the left. This is contrary to the First Amendment and the precept “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me



and here…

Posted in Not history, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Body shaming is not new

A poignant tale from 1798…

body shaming

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What the Left and the Alt-Right Get Wrong about Robert E. Lee

Source: What the Left and the Alt-Right Get Wrong about Robert E. Lee

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When science and religious cults collide

For good measure about the ‘climate change causes bad things… look, see it’s flooding, therefore it must be’ debate, and yes I know it’s from Breitbart, but it should give the more rabid and uninformed warmists just a teensy weensy pause for thought about whether stuff is cause and effect or just effect.

Dr. Duane Thresher, who has a PhD in climate science from Columbia and NASA GISS, told Breitbart News that attributing specific climatic events to global warming is simply dishonest.

“It is a fundamental fact, although increasingly ignored, that no single climate event or location can be attributed to global warming,” Thresher said.

“There is simply no valid way to prove a connection and correlation is not causation.”

According to Thresher, relying on simple correlation leads to absurd conclusions like the following:

“As global warming has supposedly been occurring, the average human lifespan has significantly increased. Therefore, global warming causes increased human lifespans,” he said.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

E pur si muove, tre

Water levels were 16 feet higher in the flood of 1935 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. In the context of climate change, is what we are seeing in Houston a new level of disaster which is becoming more common? The flood disaster unfolding in Houston is certainly very unusual. But so are other natural […]

via Why Houston Flooding Isn’t a Sign of Climate Change — Watts Up With That?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Medals count for little in class warfare

It’s the same the whole world over… it’s the poor what gets the blame

the police magistrate


George Walters was a hero of the Crimean War. At Inkerman on 5 November 1857 his quick thinking and bravery saved the life of an officer in the heat of battle. Sadly although he carried the Brigadier General to safety he later died of his wounds in the military hospital at Scutari. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry and later left the army (and his home town of Newport Pagnell) to start a new career with the Metropolitan Police.

His mini biographer (in the link above) noted that he soon left the police and ‘joined the Regents Park Police, and little is known of what happened to him before the 1871 Census’. Well, thanks to the newspaper coverage of the Police Courts, I can fill in a small amount of detail, at least as to what he was up to in 1865 when he was about 36 years…

View original post 796 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The king in the north

Do you remember that gruesome massacre scene in Game of Thrones when Jamie, the sixth of his name, who would one day rule from the stone throne was out hunting. He is lured to go almost alone to Castle Ruthven, by two young brothers, Earl Gowrie and Alexander Ruthven. They were planning to assassinate him in revenge for the cruel Jamie beheading their father. Jamie gets locked in a tower and is just about to die a horrible death only to be saved when John Ramsay finds a secret way in. The brothers are then killed in a bloody sword fight down the stairs and across the yard by the king’s retainers and the king is saved.

Well, you are probably struggling to recall that bit of Game of Thrones.

Here’s why.

It is because it happened in that other multi-part blockbuster series — known as ‘real life’.

On this day (well, not counting the dates in between getting skewed by the shift from Julian to Gregorian calendar in 1752 — “give us back our 11 days!”) on August 5 1600, all that stuff happened to Jamie, James VI of Scotland — later James I of England, aka the King James of King James’ bible fame.

castle James

James VI of Scotland and first of his name in England: nice shoes

Here’s a bit of background. Firstly Castle Ruthven was a bit more metropolitan than I’ve described it. It was the Gowrie’s townhouse in the ancient Scottish city of Perth and known as Ruthven House. Nevertheless it was pretty defensible unless you turned up with a few cannon and a large army.

castle ruthven

Where King James was imprisoned: Ruthven House

James had been there before — again under duress. A bunch of ultra-Protestants had kidnapped the boy king for ten months in the 1580s and allegedly humiliated him and made him cry, it is reported. The conspirators including Gowrie the father were angered by the influence of Europe on the young king. Queen Elizabeth of England was herself having Euro-issues with the Spanish in the shape of an invasion and was more than happy to see James locked up.

But as in the Game of Thrones, fate turns and now in 1600, Elizabeth is old. The Spaniards are defeated and vindictive James is in the ascendant.

The king had a reputation for liking money. He spent it faster than it came in. So when the Ruthven boy Alexander turned up at the hunt and asked for a quiet word with the king it was to tell him some news that Ruthven knew would interest the old Scot.

Back in 1588 weather and the English had defeated the Spanish Armada. The Spanish fleet was forced for safety’s sake to sail  north, up and around the top of Scotland, before heading for home. One of them, the treasure ship Florencia was said to have been sunk in Tobermory Bay. What Ruthven whispered to the king was that they had captured a peasant in possession of a large amount of Spanish gold from that treasure. This interested the king enough to fall into the trap.

Persuaded to come back to Ruthven House with just a few men, he was led alone up to a turret, with the Earl of Gowrie locking two doors behind them. Instead of meeting a man with gold, he met Gowrie’s armed accomplice, a servant. Gowrie held the servant’s knife to the king’s throat. Stupidly he left the king alone with the servant to go back downstairs to get his younger brother so that they both could take part in the revenge.

The few king’s men were about to leave after Alexander Ruthven had spread the story that the king had ridden off, but then they heard the shout of ‘treason’ from the tower and saw the king. They ran to help but the locked doors barred their way. That was until John Ramsay (yes I know, Game of Thrones) found another way in.

But that’s one side of the story. It’s known as the Gowrie mystery as much as it’s the Gowrie Conspiracy for some say that bad king James planned the killing all along and made up the story that he was lured to the Ruthvens. The evidence points to the fact that he wanted to wipe out the dynasty — and pursued two other Ruthvens who had nothing to do with the alleged crime. It was also said that he owed the Ruthvens a substantial amount of money, and unlike the Lannisters, this Jamie did not pay his debts. So sensitive was the king about this later that he ordered his version to be preached in churches while prosecuting and persecuting any that would repeat the contrary version.

And just for good measure, to make sure that the Crown, ie Jamie, got all the Ruthven land, he had the corpses put on trial for treason — and as you can imagine, the boys did not put up much of a defence.

And you thought Game of Thrones was bloody and far-fetched?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment