Category Archives: Britain

Defender of the Realm

The Last Lion - Defender of the Realm

I just finished listening to the audiobook (via Audible) of “The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965” by William Manchester and Paul Reid.  I had not read the book.

Very sad that it had to end!  A wonderful, fittingly magnificent effort.  My dog was also quite pleased to be getting in some extra walks lately while I listened along.

At approximately 3,200 minutes, I can say that not a single boring minute passes by; each one contains at least one interesting part of the great story, a story that is wonderfully told.  Manchester/Reid do an excellent job at presenting Churchill himself, and I felt that the book left me with a greater understanding of what drove him in politics and statecraft.  The challenges and objectives of the many other players involved in the story are also well described.  The book works very well as a history of the Second World War and its aftermath.

If I didn’t “laugh out loud”, I did at least chuckle aloud more than once.  I admit that I was brought to tears during the description surrounding VE Day – the end of the war, the crowds, the speeches, the imagery of people all over the British Isles lighting victory fires on high hills as they had done since ancient days.  Thankfully, I was sitting at home during this part of the book and not out walking the dog.  😎

One aspect of the book that I particularly enjoyed with the discussion of the various technologies of the day; how they developed, what they could and could not do, and how they were used.  I found “DotR” to be a useful resource in this respect.

Clive Chafer does a wonderful job with the reading.  I particularly enjoyed when he drops down into his ‘Winston’ voice.  I can’t say how accurate the voice is, but you definitely know when he is quoting WSC and, of course, what is said is often quite interesting and entertaining.  Although I am relatively new to the audio-book experience (I think this was my third one), it occurred to me that there must be ‘star’ readers developing in the industry, and Mr. Chafer must be among them.  When looking at listening options in future, seeing Clive Chafer’s name on an audiobook will help make the choice for me.

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Filed under Books, Britain, Churchill, History

Raise a glass ~ Winston Churchill was born 139 years ago today

Churchill_waves_to_crowds

Remember him, for he saved all of you: pudgy and not very large but somehow massive and indomitable; baby-faced, with snub nose, square chin, rheumy eyes on occasion given to tears; a thwarted actor’s taste for clothes that would have looked ridiculous on a less splendid man. He wore the quaintest hats of anyone: tinted square bowlers; great flat sombreros squashed down on his head; naval officer’s caps rendered just slightly comic by the huge cigar protruding beneath the peak. On grave and critical occasions he sported highly practical Teddy-bear suits few grown men would dare to wear in public. He fancied oil painting, at which he was good, writing, at which he was excellent, and oratory, at which he was magnificent. His habits were somewhat owlish (a bird he faintly resembled), and he stayed up late at night, often working mornings in bed with a lap tray for his desk. (Once, after the war, when I called on him at 11:00 A.M., he inquired whether I wished a drink, ordered me a whiskey and soda, then, reaching for the empty glass beside him, told his manservant: “And bring me another.”

– From World War II by (the late NY Times Foreign Affairs columnist) C.L. Sulzberger

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Filed under Britain, Churchill, History, Wine & Spirits

John Newman “Love Me Again”

Check out this song and video from John Newman.

Really over the last decade, EA’s FIFA soccer games have been my main source of new music.  They always load the game soundtrack with great stuff from all over the world.  This one from FIFA 14.

Newman is a new artist from the north of England.  I love the celebration of the dancehall culture in the video, and the Romeo & Juliet theme.  They used real people who attend the dancehall all-nighters to dance in the video.  That guy with the vertical striped bowling kinda shirt has got it goin’ on!  Love that breakbeat stuff.

You have to watch his Cheating video to find out what happens to R&J.

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Filed under Britain, Music

On the names of British navy ships

Queen Elizabeth class carrier

In early May 2003, I posted on the proposed new British aircraft carriers, and made some comments relating to how the names of warships today were often based on less-than-inspiring things — cities, towns and counties, for example (or, in the case of the US Navy, Secretaries of the Navy).  The names of British warships were more inspired in the first half of the 20th century.

I wrote:

HMS Dreadnought; the QE class battleships HMS Warspite and HMS Valiant; the Revenge class battleships HMS Revenge and HMS Resolution; the Bellephoron class battleship HMS Superb; the Orion class battleships HMS Conqueror, HMS Monarch and HMS Thunderer; the KGV class battleship HMS Audacious; the Royal Sovereign “R” Class battleships HMS Repulse (and Revenge and Resolution); the Majestic class battleships HMS Magnificent, HMS Majestic, and HMS Victorious; HMS Renown; HMS Venerable; HMS Formidable, HMS Irresistable, and HMS Implacable; HMS Triumph.

Other British Royal Navy ship names: Active, Adamant, Ardent, Blazer, Brilliant, Defiance, Discovery, Excellent, Indefatigable, Invincible, Success, Terror, Venerable, and, of course, Victory.

I dunno ~ I think if I was the captain of an enemy ship and I heard the HMS Revenge or the HMS Terror was heading my way, there might have been some psychological warfare going on there.

My post was responded to by Ghost of a flea who identified his favourite ship name, and extolled the necessity of Britain building her new carriers to the benefit of future world peace and order.

As we see this week, the last piece of the puzzle for Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth class carrier – the aft tower/island for HMS Queen Elizabeth – has been shipped.

Specifications on the new carrier are here.

 

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Filed under Britain, History