Tag Archives: Adolf Hitler

April 29th

On this day in 1553 a Flemish woman, the wife of Mr Gullheeni who was a coachman at the royal court of Elizabeth I, introduced the art of starching linen to England.

Shut your mouth and look at my ruff

Yes, I know how excited you must be by this far from mundane fact. Imagine how I quivered when I found it. Actually, I was a little intrigued because I thought “Well, here’s something they won’t know about!” which could not have been said about Joan of Arc, Hitler marrying Eva Braun (I do think it was rather an oversight on the part of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to get married on the anniversary of that pair. Still, they managed not to top themselves the next day, so hopefully they’ll have a happier less killy life than the Nazi bunker couple), or stuff to do with wars in general from the American Revolutionary up to that one in Vietnam. I nearly told you the story of a  young mathematician by the name of Evariste Galois who got released from prison on this day in 1832, indeed I was well up for doing it until I read all about his maths. Those were hard maths! Galois groups, abstract algebra! I wanted to do it, but alas my grey matter, brilliant as it is, was not quite up to it. So, instead we get starch and linen. Get in!

Starching was quite the thing in Flemland. Ha! It was quite the thing in Holland. The fashion over there was quite severe, quite black and white, and quite reliant upon linen standing up and staying in place, so starch was an essential aid to high fashion. Of course, England was all about the ruff, so Mrs Gullheeni’s way with starch was a godsend to the good housewives of this island and the Queen, especially, was cock-a-hoop with the idea that her ruffs would be super pointy and stiff forever more. Liz was so chuffed with her lovely ruffs that she showered Mrs Gullheeni with

Give us a fiver and I'll firm up your ruff

honours and made her the chief inspectress of the Court linen.

Of course, the fact that the queen was swanning around with super starchy ruffs meant that all the other ladies at court had to have them too and this led to some of the women back in Holland realising that there was money to be made from their starching abilities.  These women styled themselves as professors of starch and one of their number, Dinghen Van Der Plasse was so good at it that it cost five pounds to get a lesson in starching from her. That is roughly £15k per lesson in today’s money. Dinghen was raking it in! With the Dutch influence, there was more starching and then that got dull, so they started adding colours to the starch to pimp those ruffs. One of the first of these colours was blue. When Her Royal Lizness tried it, she was appalled to find that the blue against her skin made her face look green. My guess is the mercury and shit she was using on her face didn’t help. She immediately prohibited the use of anything other than plain white starch. Once she was dead, there were blues, yellows, reds, pinks, greens … but that was in the future. For now, we have completed our little story of how Mrs Gullheeni and Dinghen Van Der Plasse got to make a fortune out of starch and ensured that the ruffs of the great and good always looked fine and upstanding.

Today is the birthday of Daniel Day-Lewis.

I have mixed feelings about Mr Day-Lewis. On the one hand he is a wonderful actor, by and large. His performance in There Will Be Blood bordered on genius.  He is a good-looking man as well, although probably less so these days as he gets older and more haggard, but that comes to the best of us, so …

Danny boy rocking the latest in institutional headwear

But he is also an almighty twat, a pretentious wee shite and his treatment of the women in his life! “Oh, so  you’re having a baby by me? Fuck that for a game of soldiers, we’ll split up, well, I’ll send you a fax. I know we’ve been together for six years, but whatevs! Oh and payment for the child? Maybe, eventually I’ll get my head out of my arse!” and then of course he got nicely married to Rebecca Miller the daughter of Arthur Miller. Problem was he didn’t bother to tell his then girlfriend that he was going to get married to someone who wasn’t her. It was okay though. The girlfriend found out when one of her mates called her to congratulate her, because she thought that Danny Boy must be marrying her.

Things like this make it hard to like the man. That and the fact that he’s barking mad in a pretentious “Only ever address me by the name of the character I’m playing” on set thing. Or you know, playing a bastard and being a bastard until filming is over. It puts me in mind of Laurence Oliver‘s words to Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man, when Dustin was getting all methody, Larry asked him why he didn’t just learn to act. Ouch! Don’t get me wrong, there’s power in the method, but there’s also being a complete fucktard. I think Danny Boy mostly falls too much into fucktardery for me to  totally admire the demented wee twat.

Still, I have enjoyed some of his films – not that Last of the Mohicans thing though. That was pure shite – and I hope he has a happy enough birthday in Wicklow. Probably. Who am I kidding! I couldn’t give a flying act of farting fornication if he enjoys it or not!

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March 5th

On this day in 1933 there was an election in Germany which was won by … have you guessed yet? Yes, that’s right. The election was brought to you by the letters S and S and the ordinal number 3rd. The Nazi party won. So much for democracy, well sort of. Here’s how those bastards did it.

 

Adolf's hopes of a career as a catalogue model never came to fruition

Firstly, despite winning a majority, they only had 43.9% of the vote and 288 seats out of 647. They had to form a coalition which they did with the German National People’s Party (DNVP) who were pretty unpleasant and racist but far less cuntish than the National Socialist Party. The coalition had 340 seats and a clear parliamentary majority, but not big enough for Hitler to do exactly as we wished. We’ll come back to that when we delve more into the winning of this election.

 

The election took place a few days after the Reichstag had been burned down by those pesky communists. Allegedly. Of course the Communist party (KPD) had the square root of sweet F.A. to do with this grievous act of arson; most historians agree that the Nazis did it and then pointed the finger at the KPD and had their leaders arrested. When Germany went to the polls the KPD were a little less popular than they had been and their vote went down by 19% (from 100 to 81 seats). The main opposition to the Nazis was the Social Democrat Party (SPD) whose share of the vote did not alter by much; they lost one seat. So, despite winning, despite increasing its percentage of the vote and number of seats, Adolf was not a happy man. The SPD were still there, the KPD hadn’t been completely destroyed and he hadn’t cracked the 50% barrier which he was sure had been possible. The long and the short of it is this, even at the height of their popularity, the Nazis weren’t as popular as all that.

But 43.9% is a pretty good vote, you might say and I’d agree. But is it as good when you consider that the SS and SA were monitoring the vote in Prussia. We could probably replace “monitoring” with either fiddling or intimidating or both. The KPD leadership was locked up and its membership were being threatened. But they weren’t the only ones. While the SS were being a little more gentle with the SPD, the leadership were worried enough that they’d legged it to Prague. We  have fiddling, we have intimidation, we have arson and still poor old Adolf couldn’t quite get more than nearly 44% of the vote. What a useless fucker he was.

However, this election, with all the legitimacy of (the pretence of) democracy surrounding it had nothing whatsoever to do with democracy. Hitler planned to use it to pass the Enabling Act (this would allow him to pass laws without going through the Reichstag), but he needed a two-thirds majority to do this and as we can see he didn’t have it even with his dirty little coalition. What was a  homicidal wannabe dictator to do! First things first, a little more intimidation. His biggest rivals in the Reichstag were the SPD, who were never going to vote for the Enabling Act, so he set the SA and SS to the task of making it incredibly difficult for them to take their  seats. Once that was achieved, he needed to get persuasive and he did. He managed to convince the Centre Party (74 seats) to vote with the coalition and before the end of the month Hitler was the de facto dictator of Germany, the KPD and the SPD were outlawed and Germany had become a totalitarian state in little more than the blink of an eye.

I bring you this because there are people out there who like to point to the democratic legitimacy of Hitler “back in the day”, either because they want to be fair or because they’re some swivel-eyed maniac who thinks that David Irving is an actual historian and all that Holocaust stuff was made up. In future as well as telling them to fuck the fuck off, you’ll also be able to stab them with facts. No need to thank me, it’s all part of the service!

 

Today is the birthday of a trio of musical mavens. The first of these was born in 1957-ah and even at the grand old age of 54-ah, he’s still plying his trade-ah. He’s  foul-mouthed fucking fucker who was once quite a pretty boy-ah, but these days he more closely resembles a shrivelled walnut with a face painted on it or Alex Higgins just before he died. I’m talking, of course, about Mark E. Smith-ah of The Fall, a band that has been performing – although with an ever-changing line-up – for about 35 years. Their success has

Mark-ah is known for his clean-living ways and adherence to a good dental hygiene regime

always been outside of the mainstream, but cult or not, they are loved with a deep and abiding devotion by those who are their fans. I am not one of that number, but even I have to hand it to Smith. For a loud-mouthed, chippy fucking bastard with all the charm of urine soaked mattress, he has stuck it to the world for the best part of four decades and shows no sign of stopping soon. Nice work, you strange little man.

 

On to the other two who were born within minutes of each other in 1962, they both resemble strangely assembled albino-esque reworkings of Buddy Holly and they also both resemble each other to an astonishing degree. This may be because the boys from Auchtermucthy  are twins Craig and Charlie Reid, aka The Proclaimers. They formed their band in 1983 and found success in 1986 when they were invited

Charlie and Craig have always worn slightly different glasses to assist those who can't tell them apart

to tour with The Housemartins as a support act. It’s hard to pin a genre on them, but as they started out in punk, it’s probably fair to say that they’re a mash-up of punk, folk and football stand anthemic. They’ve had a degree of mainstream success but never been full-on pop stars. This is probably down to their music which sits outside of pop whilst saying a very polite hello to it and their looks. Personally I find them pleasant enough to look at, by they’re not the sort to moisten the gussets of hormonal teenagers or inspire young boys to live fast and die young. But they’re solid Scottish lads with solid left-wing credentials and a fine line in rousing tunes that have even the most terribly, terribly posh of the English persuasion bawling out “If you go will you send back a letter from America” in the closet approximation to Scottish dialect they can find.

 

Happy birthday, Craig and Charlie. You’re a great bunch of lads!

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