Enoch Powell – The Dangers Of A Classical Education

Enoch Powell - Dangers of a Classical Education

Enoch Powell has become one of those figures about whom the myth matters more than the reality.  The basic facts are that he was a reasonably successful Conservative politician until he, apparently inadvertently, made a speech which articulated the feelings of many British people about the dangers of immigration.  He became too hot to handle for the Conservatives.  He was sacked and ended his career representing the unionists in Ulster.  By all accounts he was a highly intelligent man with a strong sense of honour who commanded the respect and affection of those who knew him well.  Whether or not he was actually a racist is almost impossible to tell.   He probably didn’t know himself – but learning Urdu is hardly the typical behaviour of your average racist. But whether he was or not, his rivers of blood speech was certainly music to the ears of people who definitely were racist.  And it definitely wrecked his career and left him to be remembered as a bogeyman. Continue reading

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Byzantium – A Tale of Three Cities BBC4

byzantium

Dr Johnson is supposed to have said of Milton’s Paradise Lost that all admire but few have wished it longer.  The BBC’s three hour history of Istanbul aka Constantinople aka Byzantium on the other hand really could have done with being a good deal longer.  How is anybody supposed to tell the story of a place with such an event filled history in so little time?  Brevity and compression are great things in many ways, but you can take them too far.  Quite apart from having to leave so much out, you also just don’t get the sense of depth you need to appreciate such a large subject. Continue reading

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The Great War – BBC Series 1964

 

The hundredth centenary of the Great War has been marked by the BBC with a huge quantity of retrospective coverage.  We have already had hours and hours of broadcasting.  Some people think it will all be over by Christmas, but it looks like the schedules have become gridlocked and it may be four years before we can return again to normal viewing. Continue reading

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Kindle Fire – Why I hate it

I loved my old simple black and white simple e-reader Kindle, and would probably still love it if I hadn’t given it to my son when I got my Kindle Fire. He is still using it and enjoying it. I got my Kindle Fire as a parting gift from my last employer. It was a logical progression to upgrade from one device that I used a lot to a better one. Continue reading

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The Books On Nigel Farage’s Shelf

I just watched an interview on telly where Nigel Farage was being interviewed from his home.   As it happened some of his books were visible on a bookshelf behind his shoulder.  Here are a few observations on the ones I could see. Continue reading

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UKIP are good for democracy

UKIP_are_gppd_for_democracy

We have been here before of course.  In March 1962 the Liberals sensationally captured the supposedly safe Conservative seat of Orpington.  On the very same day they turned in a swing of 22% in a safe Labour seat, leaving the official opposition looking distinctly short of voter support even though they did manage to hold their seat.  A new dawn had arrived of three party politics. Continue reading

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The Smashing Orangey Bit In The Middle

Orange Book

At time of writing the Liberal Democrats are gathering in Glasgow for their last conference before the 2015 election.  Conventional wisdom amongst the political commentators and pollsters is that they are looking at an election where they are likely to lose about half their seats.  Even that isn’t as bad as it could have been.  Had the proportional representation measure they proposed early in the parliament gone through they would have struggled to get anyone back to Westminster. Continue reading

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100th Podcast – Q&A Session

I’ll be celebrating 100 podcasts with a special podcast devoted to answering listeners questions.  If you have a question, just pop it in the comments below some time before the 16th of October.

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Genseric – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 33 Part 2

Genseric

Genseric was tight lipped but passionate.  He set himself almost impossible objectives and used every tactic available to him to achieve them.  It is worth bearing in mind right from the start just how unlikely his career was.  The Vandals were not a big tribe and before Genseric they would not have been considered a particularly prominent one.  They had ended up in the empire rather more as refugees than as conquerors.  Even inside the empire they were not exactly the most successful of invaders.  At one point they had been so low on luck that they suffered a famine.  So they were very much the poor relations of the Goths.  At the point they enter our story they were in southern Spain where they were getting on rather badly with the neighbouring tribes. Continue reading

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Death of Honorius – Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 33 Part 1

Death of Honorius

The reign of Honorius was eventful, but his actual life settled into a fairly sedate business at the centre of his court.  He didn’t travel much or indeed do very much.  His sister on the other hand had as varied a career as any woman in Roman history.  She was taken from Rome when it was sacked and became a Gothic queen.  With the death of her husband, Placidia was finally returned to her brother in exchange for a large stock of grain. But her position made settling down difficult, and her personality made it impossible.  She was forced to marry the successful general Constantius.  Although she objected to it in advance she resigned herself to it once it happened and made the best of it.   They had two children, Valentinian and Honoria. Constantius may have found his wife stoking his ambition, because some years into the marriage he was appointed as co-emperor.  This was unlikely to have been an idea that Honorius came up with.  It was much more plausibly the work behind the scenes of Placidia.   Continue reading

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