Tag Archives: England

January 7th

On this day in 1618 Francis Bacon became the Lord Chancellor of England.

Francis contemplates how he's going to pay back all his debts.

Of course you are all more aware of his later fame as an Irish born artist, but before he began painting screaming popes he spent his [far] earlier life as a statesman, scientist, jurist, lawyer and author. As you can see he was quite the Renaissance man.

We might never have been introduced to his painting skills if it hadn’t been for the fact that he got into a bit of bother as Lord Chancellor. Unfortunately in 1621 it was discovered that he was in serious debt which did not look good, so he was fined £40,000 which was about a billion pounds in those days and sent to the Tower of London. Luckily he only spent a couple of days there before the king let him out and realising that a bloke in debt would probably not have forty grand, the king let him off his debt too.

Of course, nowadays people would be suspicious of the Lord Chancellor wasn’t a bad man with debts aplenty, or so it would seem given the type of person who gets that job these days. In 1621 Bacon was declared unfit for office. In 2012 he’d have been given the job as Chancellor of the Exchequer as we seem to be happy to give that job to numeric idiots in the second decade of the 21st century.

Anyway, long story short, due to him being all disgraced and stuff,

Bacon looking all smug after he gave up the other stuff and became a painter

Bacon had to find something else to do. He was fed up with writing and as he couldn’t event a nuclear bomb because he hadn’t heard of nuclear energy, he decided to do some painting which made him very famous and renowned.

Because his paintings did not appear until the 20th century, by which time he was allegedly an artist who had been born in Dublin, most people think that the painting Bacon is different to the earlier Bacon. He is not, he’d just had a rather long kip and not woken up for a couple of centuries. It could happen to anyone.

Today is the birthday of a man who we all know is a few follicles short of a full head of hair and several sandwiches short of a picnic. On this day in 1964 Nicholas Kim Coppola, better known as Nic Cage was born in Long Beach, California.

Nic Cage, mad as a badger on Ketamine

Back in the old days, Nic was a rather wonderful actor, if a bit of a batshit mental human being. The Oscar he won for Leaving Las Vegas was well deserved, even if it was a very difficult film to watch. However, in recent years you can more or less measure the shite content of a film by whether or not Cage is in it. He has been in some hideously shit-shite films in recent years.

But, through it all, there’s been his compellingly ugly but interesting face, the fact that he’s about as sane as a box of manic frogs and the knowledge that under the increasingly awful hammy acting there is a real talent that he’s decided to forego in favour of being the go-to mentalist for shit films.

I can’t help liking him, even when his personal life becomes almost too hard to look at and his talent fades more quickly than his ever receding hairline. So, for a change, I’m going to be nice to today’s birthday celebrator and say to the wonderfully insane Mr Cage that I hope he has a rockin’ good birthday!

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January 6th

On this day in 1066 Harold Godwinson became the king of England after the death the day before of Edward the Confessor.

Godwinson being all "I'm the king now"

Now, the whole thing about who got to be king after Edward the Confessor was a bit of a nightmare. Edward had no children of his own and hadn’t got round to saying for sure who he wanted to be king after him before he got sick, fell into a coma and died. There were three men who were up for the job. Godwinson, Harold Hardraada and William Duke of Normandy. None of them had what could be called cast iron rights to the throne, but that didn’t stop them all getting a bit fighty about the whole thing. Harold Hardraada’s claim was that when Harthacnut (son of the often misspelled Cnut the Great) was alive him and Magnus, who went on to be King of Denmarkhad made a pact that if one of them died then the other could become king of their country. But as Magnus was king of Denmark he didn’t bother going after England when Harthacnut died and let Edward the Confessor have it. In

"Oh bugger, that cad Godwinson is about to kill me!"

short, Harold Hardraada had no real claim to the throne, but Harold Godwinson’s brother Tostig said “Go for it mate, me and all the noblemen in Britain will be right behind you!” This was a bit of an exaggeration, but Hardraada went for it. He went over to the North of England in September of 1066 and had a big fight with the other Harold and his army . The big fight happened at Stamford Bridge – luckily Chelsea were not playing at home that day, because then the fight would have to have taken place somewhere else – and Godwinson won. So, for the time being Godwinson remained king.

What was Godwinson’s claim to the throne? Well there was minor family connection, but ultimately, him and his mates reckoned that just before he died, Edward the Confessor came out of his coma and said “yeah, be the king for me, Harold Godwinson, not Hardraada or William of Normandy… ach, urgh…[silence]” before dying. When William heard about this over in Normandy he thought it was all a bit chinny, chinny,

William "I'm the king now!" the Conqueror

reck-on. That said, although he too had a tiny bit of a family connection, his claim to the throne was based on the fact that back in 1051 Edward had told him he wanted William to be the King of England when he died and that Harold G had agreed that he should be in 1062. It seems an awful lot of people were claiming things that had been said when no one else was around, but then that was what it was like in ye olden times with no digital recorders or mobile phones or computers and stuff like that. They couldn’t even write quickly, so by the time some monk had got round to copying down what Edward the Confessor had said it would probably be the next year and he’d have taken so long drawing nice pictures around the first capital letter that he’d have forgotten half of it and had to make the rest up as he went along.

Any road up. As we all know, after betting the other Harold, the still living Harold had to get his arse down to Hastings or Battle – which was so named because it was a good place for a bit of a barny – and have another fight with William. He wasn’t so lucky this time and ended up deaded. Some say it was with an arrow through the eye, but in fact he had the shit kicked out of him by William and three of his mates. The cartoon that they drew of it all after, like the writing by the monks, took a long time to put together and a lot of it was made up.

Since this date, The English have been afeared of having a king named Harold in case the same sort of thing happens to him, so the name has been banned by the Royal Family, along with the names, Jason, Vincent, Kevin and Nigel.

Today is the brithday of a so-called actress who is generally known as Trudy Styler, Mrs Sting, or as I like to call her, in reference to her stupid face, a jug-eared, monkey-faced cunt*.

She met Sting while she was appearing in Macbeth with a drunk Peter O’Toole and her friend and Sting’s then wife Frances Tomelty. She stole her husband and then started having lots of babies by him, spending his money, pretending to give a shit about the planet and ill-treating her staff.

Jug-eared, Monkey=faced Cunt

Her and Sting like to go on about how much sex they have and how good at it they are. Listening to this is a good way of making yourself sick if you have accidentally swallowed poison. Sting claims that he is a master of Tantric sex and so he can do it for hours without coming. What he fails to admit is that if he’s doing it with a normally attractive woman he comes in about 5 seconds and it’s only because Styler has a face like a jug-eared monkey-cunt that he cannot come and so he pretends to be all tantric and shit.

Anyway, she is an unpleasant piece of nothing who is only famous because she nicked her mate’s husband and gave birth to his progeny. As well as being a shit human being, she is also a shit actress. She is also a shithead of a producer type thing as can be evidenced by her love of mockney Guy Ritchie. Today she is probably dressed like a clueless bint and eating baby mice while drinking champagne while imagining that she’s good at sex because her so-called tantric husband takes hours to come.

Should I wish her a happy birthday? Ha! I think not.

*Please note that I am a great lover of monkeys and would hate to insult them in any way by claiming that they look like this she-devil.  Given that I have done that, can I please apologise and make it clear that when I call her a monkey-faced cunt, I am referring to a very rare monkey so ugly that even its mother would not be able to love it. Thank you.

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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 10th

On this day in 1629 in Charles I dissolved parliament and began an eleven year period that was known as either the Personal Rule or the Eleven Year Tyranny depending on which side of the “he’s a dick who deserved to lose his head” divide you stand. It wasn’t the first time Charles had dissolved parliament for basically just getting on his tits, he’d done it three times before 1628, but the 11 year

Hello laydeez!

period was the longest and the one that led to quite  lot of trouble for him in the long run.

 

Parliamentarians did  not like King Charles I. They were against him partly over matters of taxation, but mostly over religion. Charles’ wife, Henrietta Maria, was a Catholic and they feared that he would go too easy on Catholics in Britain. At the beginning of his reign, he was advised and to an extent protected by  his father’s favourite George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham (for favourite, read boyfriend), but George died in 1628 and after this parliament were even more openly vicious about their king.

Charles, for his part, was a strong believer in the divine right of kings and felt that he owed  no explanation of anything he did to anyone other than God. It’s not hard to see that this sort of thing might lead to a few problems with parliament. To be fair to Charles, which history often isn’t, while he was a bit of a deluded prig, not all of the wrong was on his side. Parliament were also a bit on the prickish side as well. Also to be fair to him, dissolving parliament for 11 years, while it seems pretty out-of-order to us from our perspective, wasn’t without precedent. Unfortunately for Charles, the times they were a-changing, as Bob Dylan would undoubtedly told him if he was around, and his heavy-handedness did not go down well, especially with the nobility.

The common folk seemed not to mind too much at all, especially those in rural areas, and with good reason. Back in ye times of yore, tax was not as definite as death. Taxation was generally only raised to help fight wars. At this time the 30 years war was going on in the rest of Europe (this was mostly to do with whether the Catholic or Protestant god was better; the devil won), but because Charles dissolved parliament, who were the only ones who could raise taxes, England remained out of it. This meant that while Europe was experiencing death, destruction and famine, England was doing pretty well for itself. Parliamentarians and Nobles may have resented the King’s high-handedness, but the common populace loved it; in fact rural people would show this later on in the English Civil War by fighting for their King and hiding him from those who wanted to separate his head from his body.

So with no war and only the general seething of parliament from 1629-1640, not much went on. Charles found other ways to make money and keep himself in beard-trimmers and bling, crops grew, nobody had to go off and fight other a whole load of stuff and nonsense; peace and prosperity was pretty much the name of the game. So why did Charles reassemble parliament in 1640? Well, the silly fucker stuck his nose into the Scottish Presbyterian Church, trying to get them to be more like the Anglican Church. The Scots took umbrage and invaded England, Charles didn’t have the money to raise an army, so he recalled parliament.

The rest is even more history. The parliament he called was the short one. No, the members were not particularly vertically challenged, they just didn’t get to sit for long. Following them was a long parliament – that’s right you’re getting the hang of  it – and eventually civil war and orf wiv ‘is ‘ead! Without the period of personal rule, it may never have come to that and it’s clear that during this period those who railed against the authority of the king had both the time and a good reason for fermenting their hatred. However, without that period of “tyranny”, England would have ended up involved in the 30 years war, which would have had a pretty disastrous impact upon our economy and productivity. Swings and roundabouts, innit?

 

Today is the birthday of Osama Bin Laden, but while there’s a lot to be said about this giant, bearded cave-dweller who has a penchant for turning young men into suicide bombers and killing people who he thinks are scum, I’d rather turn my attention to a different manner of fuckwit: Sepp Blatter.

Sepp Blatter, who is sometimes called Septic Bladder by some wags mostly because he is a rancid container of piss, was born in 1936 and has worked at FIFA since 1975 and since 1998 the stupid bastards have insisted on electing and re-electing him as president. Everything about his presidency has been shrouded in controversy from the way he’s been elected (rumours of backhanders), to every stupid decision he’s ever taken. It’s worth noting that before working at FIFA his only experience of football was as president of the Zürich Brown Shirts (Yes, I know, but probably slightly less dodgy than the Young Boys of Bern as in “Tonight Arsenal will be playing with the Young Boys of Bern; the dirty feckers”) a team who failed to turn professional, mostly because Blatter was too shit to get enough funding together for them.

He knows nothing much about football and it shows. He is also a sexist prick. In 2004 he said that women footballers should play in

It's his third and final guess and Blatter hopes that this time he can correctly name the object in front of him

“more feminine” outfits like hot pants to make women’s football more popular. Last year he suggested that gay fans who wanted to go to the  2022 world cup finals in Qatar should just refrain from sexual activity. Homosexuality is punishable by execution in Qatar, so it’s nice of Sepp and his mates to allow such a “forward thinking” country to host one of the most important sporting events on the planet. He also lives in his own little cloud cuckoo land (I am not being racist against his Swissness here), where he thinks there’s nothing wrong with comparing the transfer market in football to slavery, calling it “modern slavery”. Of course earning over £100k a week is akin to being a slave in the same way that Sepp Blatter is akin to being a decent human being!

 

So, fuck him frankly. Sepp, you bellend, why don’t you pay a trip to a cave for your birthday. With some luck you’ll come across your birthday twin Osama and at the end of it at least one of you will end up extinct. The world would be a better place for it.

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February 27th

On this day in 1812 Lord Byron made his maiden speech in the House of Lords, on the subject of Luddite attacks on industrialism in Nottinghamshire. He defended the Luddites and asked that there be more understanding of their plight and less condemnation.

We’re all used to the mad, bad and dangerous to know Byron, although to be fair that was a description bestowed upon him by a

I totally would

woman (Lady Caroline Lamb) who most people saw as totally batshit mental, so only so much credence should be given to it. We definitely know him as a poet, an adventurer and a man who put it about quite a bit. But there was more still to Byron.

He could hardly be called a devoted member of the Lords, but from taking his place there in 1809, until he finally left England for good in 1816, he did sit there occasionally and his views were far more liberal than the majority of his peers. His speech in 1812 was in opposition to the Frame-Breaking  Bill, which sought the death penalty for those involved in Luddite activities.  Byron thought this was a little bit previous and explained that he had seen what had been going on in Nottinghamshire, that the men involved were distressed and in great want. In short, Byron, this man who we tend to imagine as a billowy romantic, giving no thought to anything but muff, cock and poetry, understood the plight of the working man, better than most political philosophers or economists were able to either at the time or for decades afterwards.

And what was their plight? Well, by and large we see Luddites as men who were opposed to change and smashed machinery (broke frames) in order to hold back industrialisation and prevent innovation. This isn’t quite what was going on. As the simply wonderful E. P. Thompson explained in his The Making of the British Working Class, it wasn’t change per se, it was real and justifiable worry about their future wages. Most factories were paying far less as the weaving economy became a free market. Those factories or workshops that were maintaining a living wage and set prices remained free from attack. History would prove their fears right; as industrialisation and the mechanisation of the manufacturing industry spread, skills disappeared and it was necessary to work longer hours in often dangerous conditions in order to maintain pre-industrial levels of income.

And speaking up for the workers, one of the few with influence to do so, was the tall, dark, and really rather handsome, Lord Byron. One should never forget his poetry, because some of it was stonkingly good, but beyond that, beyond the debt and the scandal, there was a man whose first speech, after three years in the House of Lords, was on a subject that was of no personal benefit to him, but was instead a plea for the common man. Unfortunately his opposition did not prevent the Bill from being enacted. There were executions and transportations and ultimately the organised resistance was broken. But for one brief moment, the most famous man in Britain tried to make his fame mean something. It is no wonder that when he left the country four years later he felt no need to return. Byron might well have had his end away with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife while your back was turned, but he had a morality that rose above mere lower-storey shenanigans.

Today is the birthday of violet-eyed lovely and oft married actress, Elizabeth Taylor. To be strictly accurate, she’s not such a beauty these days, but as she is a year off being 80 and pretty seriously under the weather, that’s hardly surprising.

Liz, as she is often known, first found fame as a child and adolescent, especially in the Lassie films, in which she often co-starred with Roddy McDowell, who later found fame as an ape.  Unlike many a child star before her and since, she made the difficult transition to adult roles with relative ease. She also got into the marrying habit pretty young, first walking up the aisle with Conrad Hilton Jr when she was just 18. The marriage only lasted a year, mostly because he was an abusive drunk. If she had stayed married to him, she would today be the great-aunt of Paris Hilton, so all thing’s considered it’s a good job she binned Conrad Jr early on. She married seven more times, although two of those marriages were to the same man, Richard Burton. He was the great love of her life, but she was also deeply in love with her third husband, Mike Todd, but he was tragically killed in a plane crash just over a year into their married life. All her other marriages have ended in divorce and she has been single since 1996.

It’s easy to get caught up in Taylor’s predilection for marriage, her love of  well flashy bling and her later battles with weight and to

Liz in her heyday

forget all about her acting career, but she proved her acting chops in quite a few films throughout her career, not least when she was paired with Burton who seemed to bring out the best of her ability. She is most assuredly a diva, probably a bit of a nightmare to live with and could probably have drunk the whole of the British army under the table in her heyday, but she did an enormous amount of good in the fight against AIDS, setting up her own foundation and campaigning for the recognition and acceptance of the disease and the rights of sufferers. So, while it’s easy to see her as a caricature of Hollywood excess, she’s used her fame to do some pretty good stuff in this world. That said, she does believe in all that Kabbalah bullshit and she hung around with Michael Jackson more than was entirely necessary, but what can one say? Nobody’s perfect.

Liz is currently in hospital, suffering from congestive heart failure. We can but hope that the tough old Dame (hey, she’s a DBE, I’m giving her nuff respec’) is able to entertain guests, drink a glass or two of  bubbly goodness and enjoy celebrating her 79th birthday. Happy birthday, Ms Taylor, they really do not make them like you any more!

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