Tag Archives: Catholic Church

January 9th

On this day in 1493 Columbus sailed the ocean and stopped to do a pee.

Do I look like a pretty mermaid, you twat?

That is a lie, although I’m sure that he did at least one pee on this day, but he didn’t stop to do it. What happened was that as he was sailing near the Dominican Republic, or to be more precise about the name of the Island itself, Hispaniola, he was one of the first people to see not one, but three manatees. What did he have to say about this sighting? that they were “not half as beautiful as they are painted.”

Yes, that’s right, Christopher Columbus was an idiot who thought that the manatees were mermaids. Thankfully, for the sanity of the manatees, as far as we know neither Columbus nor any of his sailors attempted to have sexual congress with the manatees. Not because they weren’t all a bit sexually frustrated, but because as they thought they were mermaids, they had no idea where they should put their willies and were too embarrassed to ask.

All in all, this sighting tells us a lot about sexual frustration, being at see

There are no photos of Mermaids, only paintings. This is because they are not real, dirty sailor boys!

for months on end and how desperate sailors must get if they can see a manatee – not the prettiest of animals – and actually think that it is a woman, albeit a half fish, half human woman. We should note that Columbus said they weren’t half as pretty as they were painted, not, as any sane person would say “they’re a bit bloody ugly”. Actually that’s unfair to sane people. Sane people would not think for one second that a manatee was a laydee. Ergo, sailors are mentalists who would probably shag anything that stayed still for long enough. What a bunch of dirty boys they are.

Today was the birthday of a chap called Josemaría Escrivá. Since 2002 he’s been known as St Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás. He was a Spanish priest, the founder of Opus Dei and according to Pope John Paul II who canonised him he should be “counted among the great witnesses of Christianity.”

Like buggery should he. Opus Dei is a well dodgy movement. Of course the members would say that they are not and anyone who says they are has an agenda. But given that in the late sixties all c.50 male members of Opus Dei had volunteered to join the “Blue Division” in 1941, one might poke ones tongue out at the Opus Dei bunch and say “yeah, well what about your agenda, ha!” The Blue Division was a collection of Portuguese and Spanish volunteers who joined the German army in their fight against the Soviet army in the Eastern Front.

Opus Dei say they are not political, as did Josemaría, but the evidence is that for all their claims of apolitical holiness, they are extremely anti=communist and have got into bed with some rather dodgy people as a result of this.

Some of you might say that there’s nothing wrong with anti=communism, but being chummy with Franco? Allegedly claiming that Hitler wasn’t so bad as he was anti-communist and probably didn’t kill 6 million Jews (only 4 million, which is but a tiny amount. Not!) and popping over to stick your tongue up Pinochet’s arse? In short, it’s difficult to see either Josemaría or the whole organisation are as neutral as they claim.

This man was dodgy as fuck

It’s also clear that Josemaría was a bit of an elitist, thought he was above the Vatican and basically did not live the life that one might expect of a man who’s now a saint. He lived in luxury and he was a stranger to compassion and charity.

So, how did he get made into a saint if all this is true? I dunno, maybe the fact that JPII was also not all that fond of the communists had something to do with it. That and the fact that try as they might to be decent, a lot of the Catholic church and the whole of the Vatican are as bent as a 10 bob note.

Should we celebrate his birthday with joy? Should we fuck. He was a vile man and when he got made a saint, the RC church might as well have been seen kneeling down to suck Hitler’s dead cock. That’s how bad it was. So screw him and his happy birthday. He sort of makes me want to believe in heaven and hell, because I like the idea of a saint being poked in the arse by a laughing Satan in a pit of fire.

Please note that any offence given to Opus Dei or it’s batshit nasty members is totally non-accidental. Thank you.

Oh! Just a wee bit more. Opus Dei is well secretive, which is probably because it’s a cult. And old Josemaría had some super cool stuff to say about women. He told wives that it was their job to look purty for their husbands at all times and not try to be all clever and shit as that wasn’t very feminine of them. In short Opus Dei hates women. That hasn’t stopped Madonna from allegedly joining up with them, but then she is, much as I love/hate her, a bit of a stupid cow.

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January 3rd

On this day in 1596, while working for the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, Leondardo da Vinci, the famous painter, scientist type thing, engineer, and maker up of stuff, apparently failed when he was testing one of his flying machine inventions.

Shit flying machine that kills chickens. Probably

None of us are sure exactly which one it was, all we know is that it crashed and killed the chicken he had dressed up as its pilot. Many have posited that the crash may have been due to the inefficiency of the chicken, who was known to be a rather pure pilot. However, it has also been suggested that he was shit at making wings so even if he’d had a cleverer animal flying the plane it would have crashed.  All we do know for sure is that after it crashed, Ludovico laughed at him and told him he’d be better of getting back to doing a bit of painting for a while and that Leonardo, in a huff, decided to show everyone that he knew from a really good painting idea, so he went back to his Last Supper, and instead of using fresco, which would have insured that it lasted well and didn’t go all mouldy and flaky, he used tempera over a ground of gesso, which ensured that the painting, which was pretty damn fine would go mouldy and flaky within one hundred years.

The above proves that da Vinci was a right git when he was laughed at and would happily cut off his nose to spite his face when it came to getting his revenge. It should be noted, that he never actually cut off his nose to spite his face; he wasn’t that much of an idiot.

This is a rather short entry for today as despite the fact that da Vinci could be a bit of a git, we’re all mostly agreed that he was a big old genius and we don’t really want to take up too much space taking the piss out of him as that would be unfair. Sort of, anyway. So in order to make up the space, it should also be noted that on this day in 1962 Pope John XXIII excommunicated Fidel Castro.

Castro had suppressed Catholic institutions in Cuba and naturally enough the pope wasn’t happy about it. Upon hearing what had happened, Fidel is alleged to have picked up his wife’s handbag, held it up against his chest made an “Oooh” noise and then said “Get him!” referring of course to the rather angry pope. In other words: Fidel Castro was not bothered.

To be fair to the pope, he was never going to be happy about having Catholicism dissed. To be fair to Fidel Castro he despised the

Fidel joking with David Essex about how shit the Pope is.

Catholic church for using parts of the bible to make out that it was fine for them to expect women to be beneath men in all things and get pregnant all the time if they weren’t pure enough to keep their lady gardens to themselves and never let a man put his winky up it. He also had an issue with the way that the Catholic Church pretty much sat back and watched Africans getting screwed by the Western World and there basic “Shut up moaning about being poor, it means that you’ll go to heaven and be happy and not have to bend over a bit to walk up a Camel’s arse. Or something.”

Anyway! Excommunicating someone who doesn’t give a flying act of martial ghastliness about your Church is a bit of a waste of time and ends up making you look a bit of an idiot. So, in this particular game of political tennis the score was Pope John XXIII 15 – Fidel Castro 40.

Today was the birthday of J.R.R. Tolkien.

He was born in 1892 in Orange Free State, which is now called the Free State Province and part of South Africa. Apparently when he was still a wee thing he was bitten by a baboon spider, which later biographers got quite excited about and were all “Ooh, it probably had an effect on what he wrote about!” He said he had no memory of it at all and as he didn’t write books about spiders that looked like monkeys with big red arses, I’d say that this story is of no use at all other than the fact that a baboon spider sounds well weird . I haven’t bothered to look at a photo of one as it would almost certainly ruin what it looks like in my imagination ( a three-foot tall spider with an actual baboon face and a big red arse. If it doesn’t look like that, I do not want to know).

Hobbits go to Hollywood. Shove them up your arse.

Anyway, la, la. Anyone who knows me reasonably well, knows one thing about me. I fucking hate the books what Tolkien wrote. A lot. I also hate being told that if I just give The Lord of the Rings trilogy a chance, I’ll really love it and it will change my life and blah, etc. It won’t. I am not a 15 year old boy whose only sexual experience is a few wet dreams and wanking  into a sock in my bedroom while thinking of Lorraine Kelly spanking me. I did try to read The Hobbit when I was about 12 and it was shit and full of stupid people with big hairy feet who lived in stupid Hobbity houses and were annoying. Now, if you like these books and the films and all of that stuff, fair play to you. I’m glad that someone gets pleasure out of – what appears to me to be – this pile of wrongness, but I am not of your number and nor do I ever wish to be.

Obviously, Tolkien was quite clever and did language type stuff and made up Hobbit language like some fucking Star Trek geek who makes up a language for the big foreheaded creatures to speak (please to note, I probably do know the name of the big foreheaded creatures, but since getting minor brain damage last year, a lot of words escape me. There name does and frankly I can’t be arsed to look it up. So sue me.) and he went on to live to quite an old age, dying in 1973 with lots of boys crying and stuff because he was like the best author ever. NO HE WAS NOT.

Happy birthday, John Ronald. Btw, if, per chance, there is a heaven and you’re already there and I end up there in a few years time, please do not come up to me and speak to me as a smack in your face will probably upset you and then St Peter will make me embroider flowers on heavenly hosts for half of eternity to make up for my boldness. Thanks.

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June 6th

On this day in 1654 Queen Christina of Sweden abdicated her throne and converted to Catholicism.

Queen Christina liked to have some sort of bird on her horse's bum when she was riding

While she’s known as Queen Christina, she was more properly a king. She took her oath as a king and she was brought up as a prince by the order of her father. Apparently when she was born she was so hairy that at first everyone thought she was a boy, which sounds odd to me. Surely if she was that hairy they’d have thought she was a monkey or a werewolf or something, but no, clearly they thought it was normal for a baby boy to be born covered in hair. Anyway, they noticed she didn’t have a winky and realised she was a boy. Her dad, Gustav II didn’t care, he was just overjoyed that she was bonny and healthy because four children had died before her and he wanted an heir. Her mother didn’t like her so much and spent the first six years of Christina’s life giving her a hard time for being a girl and causing her mother pain when she was born.  Then Gustav II was killed in battle and suddenly Maria, Christina’s mother, was all over her like a rash, clinging to her like a limpet and basically being a huge pain in the arse. Christina didn’t want to hurt her mother, but she did want her to eff the eff off. In fact she was such a pain that eventually she was sent off to live in another castle and Christina was brought up for a few years by her aunt Catherine, as per her father’s wishes.

Apart from having the mother from hell and losing her beloved father so young, Christina had a fairly good childhood and was an intelligent and capable young woman. She spoke many languages fluently, rode well, was well-versed in history and politics and was much admired throughout Europe. She remained in the background politically until she was 18 and then became Queen regnant proper. It’s fair to say that she wasn’t the best of queens, but that was as much due to circumstances as any shortcomings on her behalf. She steered clear of marriage, saying privately that she found the whole thing distasteful and while she enjoyed the company of men, her closest relationships and truest affections were directed toward the women in her life. Was she a lesbian? It’s hard to say for sure, but given her distaste for the institution of marriage and all it entailed, it’s fair to say that if she ever did have sex it was far more likely to have been with a woman than a man. She reigned as queen proper for a decade, but she never really enjoyed it. She had wanted to abdicate long before 1654 but kept agreeing to stay on because parliament begged her. She felt a bit of a hypocrite, ruling over a Protestant country when she was secretly a Catholic, but it also made her a very tolerant woman. She did not discriminate against anyone based on religious distinctions and believed that everyone should be allowed to worship as they saw fit. These were very liberal views for the time.

But la! She had a nice abdication ceremony and then buggered off through Denmark and down to Rome, where they were well happy to

She wasn't much of a looker

see her what with her being all famous and a Catholic convert. They didn’t even seem to mind too much that she’d made most of her journey dressed as a man. That was another thing about her: she did like men’s clothes. She made quite the impact among the gentle ladies of Italy who were astonished by her manners and the ease with which she comported herself. She got invited to loads of parties and everyone was keen to have her in their home because she was such a big celebrity. The rest of her life was spent between Paris and Rome with short trips back to Sweden and elsewhere before she eventually died in Rome and was buried in St Peter’s Basilica, which is well posh.

The thing that makes her stand out in history is that she wasn’t like others around her. She dressed how she pleased, she did what she wanted and she wasn’t at all bothered by the constraints of class and gender. That she managed to do this whilst still being accepted by the establishment of Europe and the Roman Catholic church, which was even more Conservative with a capital C and a “don’t you be  poof or a Jew or one of those funny laydeez around us, you fucking weirdos!” then than it is now. So much was her masculine demeanour and her deep voice noted at the time, that in the 60s her body was exhumed so that scientists could figure out if she was intersex and/or had a winky and a lala. They weren’t able to discern from her bones whether or not this was the case, but as there are diary entries along the lines of “Fuxace!!!!1 On the rag. Again!!!!111!1”, we do know that she menstruated, so she did have a lala even though she looked a bit like a man.

 

Today was the Birthday of the novelist, Virginia Andrews.

She may mean nothing at all to a lot of the men out there. To be fair a lot of women may also be going “Who?” But there are a lot of us who remember reading Flowers in the Attic and then if were obsessed nutters, the whole series of Dollganger novels. It’s fair to say that her books were the crack cocaine of trashy literature and we were her desperate little junkies all wanting just a little more of her sick and twisted little world.

Like Village of the Damned with added incest

If you’ve never read these books, here’s the story. In Flowers in the Attic we first come across the Dollganger children, Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie. Their parents are Christopher and Corrine. Christopher dies in a car accident and Corrine who is afraid of being destitute asks her mother, Olivia, if the children can live with her while she tries to get work, etc. Olivia is all “yeah, that’s fine, but your father cannot know about them, so we must hide them in the attic.” The kids are all “Do we have to?” and Corrine is all “Yeah, your grandfather didn’t like it when I married my half-uncle and he’d have a fit if he knew we had children, but he’s going to die soon, so I’ll be nice to him, he’ll leave me lots of money and then we can all live together.” and so the kids have to live in the attic. It’s horrible up there, Grandma’s a bitch, Mum pretty much reneges on her word, there’s arsenic, drinking blood out of hunger,one of the twins dies and Chris and Cathy end up doing sex. They escape when they realise that their mother is trying to murder them and head out to an unknown future.

Petals on the Wind, is even more batshit mental. The other twin dies, Cathy gets to be a ballet dancer and Chris a doctor. She tries to stay away from him, but he still loves her. She wants revenge on her mother. There’s death, love,madness, a fire, more death and then Chris and Cathy give in and pretend to be husband and wife. Onto If There Be Thorns which again ups the mentalism. Cathy and Chris are together with “their” children, except they’re not, they’re Cathy’s with her first husband and her mother’s husband. She’s nothing if not prolific when it comes to inappropriate relationships. They adopt a little girl. Everyone’s happy then Bart starts visiting the old lady next door who is … oh come on, she’s Corrine the evil mother with her evil butler and Bart gets made all mental by the pair of them and there’s another fire and more death and at the end, Cathy and Chris are safe and Bart’s a bit less mental.

Seeds of Yesterday concentrates on the children, Bart, Jory and Cindy. Bart is still mental, Cindy’s a bit of  a strumpet and Jory, a ballet

This is the woman who came up with this crazy web of incestuous madness

dancer, has an accident and ends up in a wheelchair. Much mentalism ensues. Chris is killed in a car crash just like his dad and Cathy goes up to the attic and dies. As you do. This is the end of the series, but then – oh joy (really, I wish I was being sarcastic, but I’m not) – there’s Garden of Shadows,  a prequel wherein the madness begins to make some sort of sense. Not in a real “oh well that’s all right then!” way, but more “Well bugger me with witch’s broomstick, the whole damn lot of them are a bunch of incestuous mentals!”

By this time, Virginia Andrews had died of breast cancer. The last book was partly written by her and partly by a ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman, who was hired by her estate. He is still writing books as Virginia Andrews, which brings a nice touch of real-life mentalism to her literary heritage. Not as crazy as the plots of the books she actually wrote, but pretty strange all the same.

Anyway! I’m sorry, I have introduced you to a strange world of wrong, or maybe reminded you of it, if like me you wallowed in this filth. I should have chosen a more worthy subject, but if it’s any consolation, going back through the plot summaries of these awful, trashy, outrageously schlocky books has made me want to read them again. Surely that is penance enough?

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May 30th

On this day in 1431 Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for being a heretic and wearing men’s clothes. The hussy.

A pretty much contemporary image of Joan

The day is celebrated in France and is a Catholic holy day (although not a holy day of obligation). It’s nice that the Catholic church remember her, as it was their English contingent that tried her and found her guilty in 1431 and then it took nearly 500 years to decide that she was a saint – she was canonised in 1920. I don’t know why this annoys me, as I don’t believe in saints, but it just seems that because she was a bit active and going out there and getting something done – which isn’t the Catholic model of the passive virgin female saint – they ignored her for as long as they could. In effect, I’m allowing myself to be annoyed by the sexism of an inherently sexist institution and about the canonisation of some girl when I don’t believe in any of that nonsense. And there was me thinking I was at the very least a semi-rational human being.

Anyway! The gen on this execution and martyrdom is as follows. We all know that Joan, or Jeanne or Jehanne heard some voices telling her to go and fight for the Dauphin and to help him beat the bloody English in a war that had been going on forever and a day. The One Hundred Years War, to be precise. So she got on her horse, dressed as a man, got herself some armour and went up to see the Dauphin and told him he needed to get his arse in gear and that she was just the warrior to get him out of schtuck. Of course she said it much more politely and in French, but you get the gist.

The Dauphin was wary at first. His father, Charles VI had been barking mad (he thought he was made of glass, which on a scale of 1 to that is one of the maddest things I’ve ever heard, ranks pretty bloody highly) and he didn’t want to let some girl with visions get in front of his army if she was either mad or could be proved to be not holy enough and therefore in league with the devil. He had some ecclesiastical types check her out and while they couldn’t confirm that she had been chatting with saints Catherine, Margaret and Michael, they were able to tell him that she was a top lass, very virtuous and properly holy and stuff. That was enough for him. To be honest, he was so fuckered at the time that he was prepared to try anything. This is hardly surprising; one can’t imagine a king in that period being all “Yeah, a girl, that’s just the secret weapon I need!”

So, young Joan, got on her warhorse, with a standard and a sword and marched out in front of the French army to give the English a bit

Joan being led to her death

of  a seeing too. And she did. Thanks to her, the English fortunes went into reverse and she did what the saints had told her to do; she got the Dauphin crowned King Charles VII of France. This is all pretty amazing really. She was an illiterate girl from a village. She had no training in warfare, she was about 19 years old and yet somehow, she managed to plan, strategize and bring victory to an army that until that point had been dead on its feet. That’s the thing with Joan, it’s not that she’s a saint that makes her notable, it’s the stuff she actually did and that history shows that she did. She stands out as an utterly amazing person whose deeds are pretty much beyond explanation.

Unfortunately, although she was the cause of victories and the king getting his crown, fortune very quickly turned against her. She was captured by Burgundian forces, who weren’t on the king’s side. At this point a ransom should have been paid and she should have been handed back to her family; this wasn’t going to happen given that her family weren’t wealthy. Charles VII should have paid to have her released, but he did not, which was frankly shitty of him. Joan attempted a few escapes, but was eventually captured again and then sold by the Burgundians to the English who were not at all happy with her. What followed was a trial so dodgy that even Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA and noted bent bastard, would have blushed at the proceedings. Joan had no one to speak for her, no recourse to legal representation, was refused the right to send word to those who could help her, including the pope and was basically stitched up like a kipper.

The transcripts of the trial show her as an uncommonly intelligent and quick woman. A lot of these can be read in George Bernard Shaw‘s Saint Joan. Shaw was so impressed by them, that he included much of Joan’s own words, verbatim, in his script. None of it mattered. The court who was trying her knew that they would execute her. They made up evidence, the ignored facts and within a short period of time found her guilty and sent her to be burned. She died in this most heinous of ways in front of a horrified crowd and at the hands of an executioner who feared for his soul, so wrong did he know this outcome to be. And then nearly 500 years later, she got to be a saint because, thankfully as well as being a top bird she’d also been a virgin. If she hadn’t been a virgin, she’d just be that bird what got burned. The Catholic church has standards to uphold after all!

 

Today was the birthday of Irving Thalberg, one of the greatest film producers of all times. His life was short, he died at the age of 37, but his achievements have rarely been equalled. He had a golden touch when it came to picking scripts, actors, directors and putting together films that were critical and commercial successes.

Thalberg with wife Norma Shearer in 1929. Effortless glamour

The Oscars has the Irving G Thalberg award which is given to producers whose body or work shows a consistently high level of achievement. It’s not awarded every year, because, frankly, there aren’t that many people whose body of work comes close to making them even slightly eligible.

Thalberg started work for Universal Studios at the age of 20. By the age of 21 he was the executive in charge of production at Universal City. He then moved to MGM where he was vice-president and supervisor of production. He reigned supreme until 1932 when he had a heart attack and was sidelined by Louis B Mayer, who was jealous of him, but thanks to Nicholas Schenck, who was president of Loewe’s (MGM’s parent company), this was more or less overruled and Thalberg went on to produce many more amazing films before his premature death in 1936.

He was married to Norma Shearer from 1927 until his death and they had two children. A brilliant and driven man, those of us who love movies have a lot to thank him for. Here’s a short list of some of those films:

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
  • Greed (1924)
  • Flesh and the Devil (1926)
  • Anna Christie (1930)
  • Mata Hari (1931)
  • Freaks (1932)
  • Grand Hotel (1932)
  • The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  • A Night at the Opera (1935)
  • Camille (1936)
This is a fraction of his output, but more than enough to see how damned good he was. Happy birthday, Mr Thalberg, if I believed in all that heaven stuff, I’d imagine you making films up there for all of us to see when we’re deaded!

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April 13th

On this day in 1829 Royal assent was given to  an Act that had been passed by Parliament on 24th March. The Roman Catholic Relief Act came into being and from that day forward all left-footers were allowed to be proper auld Papists and they wouldn’t get funny looks for it or suffer in terms of their career or financial prospects. Excuse me while I sew my sides back together. Oh the hilarity!

That'll learn the bog-trotters.

I’m going to give you a bit of background to this, but it will be very much an overview. There is a very good reason for this. Most of the background involves 17th and 18th century Irish politics and believe me, you do not want to go there. I studied this shit in detail and only just came out of it alive. It’s all Penal Laws this and Test Act that and all manner of shenanigans based on being Catholic and therefore not being able to work here, do this thing, vote here, do that thing and oh sweet mother of god and all the saints in heaven! It probably wouldn’t be half as bad, but just about everyone who’s chosen to write scholarly articles on it has decided that in order to show how clever they are they must swallow a dictionary and regurgitate it randomly and with extreme prejudice. So, my readers, that is why we will not be doing anything in-depth about that particular period.

But, unfortunately,you do need a bit of background. As you may or may not know, the British were not overly keen on those of the Catholic persuasion from the time of Elizabeth I onwards. I mean they put up with them, but the whole thing got worse and worse and then they were all over Ireland like a huge fucking rash and they really did not like the Irish Catholics one little bit and before you know it there are all sorts of laws in place that make life slightly more difficult for a Catholic than it really needed to be. First, there are the Penal Laws, these weren’t a new thing in the 17th Century, but after the Irish Catholics supported James II over William and Mary – i.e. the losing side – they were amended a bit more. To be fair, the laws had been at their harshest during the commonwealth of Cromwell, when clergy were expelled and could be executed and at no point throughout most of the century could Catholics take high office, etc. But! From 1691 Catholics had to swear allegiance to W&M if they wanted to be treated right. Most of the RCs did not want to swear that oath. But, to make things more complicated some RC gentry didn’t have to take the oath because they’d surrendered earlier when the whole war thing was going on. Confused? I told you.

The Test Act is more straightforward. If you weren’t a member of the Church of England, you were screwed. It affected non-conformists as well as Catholics, but given the oath from 1673 onwards was this: “I, [Catholic McMinty], do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.” In short, RCs (Roman Catholics, I’m tired of typing out Catholic over and over again!) were to renounce one of the central tenets of their faith and if they did not, they could not enter the military or hold office anywhere, including the Houses of Commons and Lords. [Quick faith thing: transubstantiation is the belief that the bread and wine used during communion turns into the body and blood of Christ. RCs believe this, Anglicans believe that communion is symbolic and no change really happens. Yes, it’s all a bit loop-the-loop, but that’s religion for you].

That’s how it all was at the beginning of the eighteenth century. It got worse. There was a ban on inter-faith marriage (repealed 1778), non-conformist weddings were not recognised by the state, Catholics weren’t allowed firearms (rescinded 1793), disenfranchisement (repealed 1793), exclusion from the legal profession (until 1793) and the judiciary (1829), Catholics could not inherit Protestant property, Catholic property owners had to subdivide their property on death, this  had the effect of breaking up land and property. This could be circumvented if one of the kids converted to the CofI. And more. You couldn’t own a horse worth more than a fiver, you couldn’t buy land with a lease of more than 31 years, you couldn’t gain custody of an orphan unless you paid £500 to a protestant hospital in Dublin. And so on and so on.

I know, this is long-winded, but believe me, this is the shortened version! In very short, if you were a Catholic, you were fuckered

Hardly mentioned here, but he played a major role in telling the UK parliament to think on

every which way unless you converted or pretended to convert. Quite a few took the latter route. And then came the glorious day in 1829 that the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed. You’ll have noticed that the nonconformists didn’t get off lightly either, but worry not, they got emancipated a whole year before the Catholics. There was a small price to pay. Prior to the Act, anyone who owned or rented land worth 40 shillings (two quid) could vote. After emancipation, the amount was raised to a tenner, which meant that many who had the vote (which they’d got in 1793, you’ll notice there was a bit of emancipation going on then) now lost it.

It could have been worse. Jewish MPs were barred until 1858 and atheists until 1886.(Disraeli? You ask. He converted to Christianity).

Now, I’d be very bad if I didn’t point out that despite the harshness of the Penal laws, many Catholics and nonconformists didn’t suffer too much. However, it did create a heinous inequality in a country where the majority were legally sidelined from having a say in the running and future of their own country. The whole period was known as the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland, and it pretty much was.

At this point I could tell you the story of how for a while the nonconformist Presbyterians and Catholics found common cause before the British woke up to divide and rule, but that’s another five million words worth, and I’ve put you through enough already. Let’s just say that emancipation was a long time coming and when it arrived, it was  little too full of compromise to taste like anything approaching victory. Nice thought though. I have it on good authority that the Jewish and atheist recipients felt much the same way later in the century.

Oh and fuckity, fuck, fuck! Before I forget, there was a whole tithe madness thing that went on for a lot longer and led to a bit of a war (or civil disobedience), from 183-1836. When people started getting duffed up and killed by the police for not paying a few shillings of tithes to the Church of Ireland (the one that they weren’t members of), the British government realised that they might have fucked it up a lot little. But that is it for now. I promise.

Today’s birthday is going to be short and sweet, given what you’ve all had to endure, but none the less heartfelt for that.  So, today raise your glasses to the greatest director of musicals who ever lived, Mr Stanley Donen. If you don’t know his name, shame on you. This man gave us Singin’ in the Rain, On the Town, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Funny Face. Granted

Stan the man dances cheek to cheek with his Oscar

I’m  not a fan of the multiple weddings of the country dancing set film, but the others. Oh my. And he directed films without music and dancing too, including Indiscreet, which is just delicious. And he never won an oscar as a director which is an utter fucking travesty. They gave him one of those “Oh you’re old now and we forgot to give you one before” awards, but he has outfoxed them by living for 13 years and counting since they gave it to him.

I love this man, he’s made films that have made me happy and he never once told me I couldn’t vote unless I had 40 shillings worth of land and had to marry my own kind and own a flea-bitten nag. These are fine qualities in a man. Happy birthday, sir, you are a shining example to us all and by golly you choreographed some mighty fine dancing in your time!

He Choreographed this. Worship him!


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February 25th

On this day in 1095 the Archbishop of Canterbury, the bishops of the land, the nobles and the King came together at the Council of Rockingham, to discuss some shit about the pallium and receiving it from the pope. It probably tells us something about the popularity of the king and the archbishop among their own peers, that the bishops sided with the king in the argument that ensued and the nobles sided with the archbishop. There was, of course, a bit of fallout after the event, but in order to have the faintest idea what they were arguing about in the first place, it’s necessary to have a little bit of context. These medieval types were very complicated and decidedly odd.

 

Buggery bollocks! I've killed the king!

The archbishop in question was called Anselm. All things considered he was probably a good one. He was quite holy, cared about reforming the church and all those nice sorts of things, although that said, he had a fair amount of money, so his holiness only went so far. Like just about anyone with a bit of influence, he was of the French persuasion and had been the abbot of a monastery in Normandy before his accession to Canterbury. He and the king were at loggerheads from the get go. That king was William II better known as William Rufus.

 

Rufus’s image has been handed down to us by the chroniclers of the time. They hated him, but this was because he didn’t give a flying fart about the church. As a result they painted the picture of an evil man whose court was corrupt and a non-stop of orgy of, well orgy type things; mostly sex but also cruelty and devil worship. The chroniclers were pretty much the Daily Mail of the Middle Ages. Rufus was no angel and he was exceptionally spoilt and greedy, but unfortunately his life wasn’t a crazy merry-go-round of debauchery, he just didn’t care to be all pious, which was pretty unusual in his day and age.

There are two other issues that need to be considered in this vastly unimportant affair: the papacy and the pallium. At the time there were two popes, well a pope and an Antipope (please note this is not the same as an Antichrist, although it would be a lot more fun if it was). Urban II (named because he was well into Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah) was the pope most people recognised, Clement III was the Antipope. William Rufus decided that he preferred Clement III and wasn’t going to recognise Urban. Confused yet? Well here comes the pallium! It’s a strip of material that goes over the bishop’s frock and when seen from either the front or the back is shaped like the letter Y. The only person who could bestow it was the pope and at this point in the Catholic church’s illustrious history, the pope was making bishops pay big money to get one off him. Those popes and their simony! What a bunch of utter thieving bastards!

So, there’s the background. More or less. The council was called because Anselm wanted to go to Rome to get his pallium, but Rufus didn’t want him to go because he wasn’t down with Urban and, to be perfectly honest, because he just liked making life difficult for Anselm who got right on his tits. The council ended in deadlock and when the bishops all legged it down to the pub, Rufus phoned Rome and made Urban send a legate over – a special emissary type, from his mouth to the pope’s mouldy ear, sort of person – and to bring the pallium or else. The legate came, so did the pallium. Rufus suddenly found he could pick out Urban in a crowd. He told Anselm he could have the pallium, but he wasn’t going to get it from the pope, but from William himself. Anselm sulked, there was more fannying about and eventually Anselm got his letter Y, but not long after that he had to go into exile because Rufus was so irritated by him that he threatened to punch him up the throat.

Anselm’s exile did not last for too long; by 1100 William Rufus was dead by an arrow through the chest. There are many versions of how this came to be. The most popular is that someone mistook him for a squirrel and fired the arrow at him by mistake. This is a lovely story, but William Rufus did not look like a squirrel (he had blond hair, a ruddy face, wall-eyes and a pot-belly). Another story is that he was hit by an arrow that was intended for a stag but misfired. This may be the truth, or he may, as many believe, have been murdered for taking too much money off the church and getting too many backs up. Either way, he was dead, Anselm was back in the hood and Urban, well Urban was probably spinning some radical mash-ups back in the Vatican.

There is something to be learned from this strange and convoluted tale. People have odd notions that life was simpler and less confusing in ye olden days and this small snapshot from days of yore proves once and for all that it really bloody was not!

 

Today was the birthday of George Harrison, the best looking of all the Beatles. He played guitar and wrote some beautiful music, including Something, which is rated by those who know about these sort of things, as one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

*sigh*

 

In the aftermath of the Beatles split, Harrison continued to create music as a solo artist and many years later with The Travelling Wilburys. He also became an accidental film producer when he stepped in to help out the Monty Python team whose Life of Brian had been left high and dry by EMI who pulled out because they were a bit scared of the material. Harrison got together the £2 million they needed to get the film made. He hadn’t intended to go into the film business, but he did and over the next 16 years produced films such as Mona Lisa and Withnail and I before selling his company – Handmade Films – in 1994.

 

In many ways, George was the easiest Beatle to like. He didn’t divide opinion like John did, he was far nicer to look at than Ringo and he didn’t have a mouth like a cat’s arse, like Paul. His death in 2001, nearly 21 years after the murder of Lennon, was another hard loss for all fans of the Beatles, anyone who’d enjoyed the films he’d helped to get made, and for many who just thought he was a top bloke who should have hung around for a lot longer.

These small paragraphs cannot really do justice to George Harrison, so go and read more about him, listen to Something, chant Hare Krishna and when night falls, look up at the stars and wish a very lovely man a very happy birthday. Thank you for all of it, George, especially Mandy mother of Brian!

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