May 28

Amber pages

Patrick White, Australian novelist, born today in 1912 - click here for my piece in Private Collection

And today in 1871, the first true democratic overthrow of tyranny, the Paris Commune, was defeated after what is now known as "Bloody Week". The full story is told here

One of the things I love best about having by pure chance and haphazard been born English, and I am sure this is true of every nation in the world but it seems to be especially true of the English, is their quite extraordinary capacity to turn anything and everything bad into something that was provably good after all.

So those pirates Drake and Raleigh and co, no different from the brigands of the Barbary coast or the Somalis in the Red Sea today, are the founding heroes of the British Empire, their ships restored and on permanent display in Tourist Town for all the world to selfie. 

So Queen Bess, who destroyed more culture than any other English monarch before or since, is hailed as the one most responsible for creating it (most of the best stuff was actually done after she died and Scottish James came to the throne). 

So Churchill is not a war criminal, in spite of Galipoli, let alone Dresden, Maissen, Cologne. So the list goes on. 

And year after year the worst humiliation ever suffered by an English army, their total rout and forced retreat from the continent of Europe, is televised over and over, and we remember it as one of our greatest moments, the triumphant, the heroic, the unimaginably brilliantly organised, arranged and managed, the do-not-use-the-word-retreat, the Evacuation of Dunkerque, begun today in 1940.

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