Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Fox's Prophecy (written in 1870)

"For not upon these hills alone
The doom of sport shall fall;
O'er the broad face of England creeps
The shadow on the wall.

"The years roll on: old manors change,
Old customs lose their sway;
New fashions rule; the grandsire's garb
Moves ridicule to-day.

"The woodlands where my race has bred
Unto the axe shall yield;
Hedgerow and copse shall cease to shade
The ever widening field.

"The manly sports of England
Shall vanish one by one;
The manly blood of England
In weaker veins shall run.

"The furzy down, the moorland heath,
The steam plough shall invade;
Nor park nor manor shall escape -
Common, nor forest glade.

"Degenerate sons of manlier sires
To lower joys shall fall;
The faithless lore of Germany,
The gilded vice of Gaul.

"The sports of their forefathers
To baser tastes shall yield;
The vices of the town displace
The pleasures of the field.

"For swiftly o'er the level shore
The waves of progress ride;
The ancient landmarks one by one
Shall sink beneath the tide.

"Time honoured creeds and ancient faith,
The Alter and the Crown,
Lordship's hereditary right,
Before that tide go down.

"Base churls shall mock the mighty names
Writ on the roll of time;
Religion shall be held a jest,
And loyalty a crime.

"No word of prayer, no hmyn of praise
Sound in the village school;
The people's education
Utilitarians rule.

"In England's ancient pulpits
Lay orators shall preach
New creeds, and free religions
Self made apostles teach.

"The peasants to their daily tasks
In surly silence fall;
No kindly hospitalities
In farmhouse nor in hall.

"Nor harvest feast nor Christmas tide
Shall farm or manor hold;
Science alone can plenty give,
The only God is gold.

"The homes where love and peace should dwell
Fierce politics shall vex,
And unsexed woman strive to prove
Herself the coarser sex.

"Mechanics in their workshops
Affairs of state decide;
Honour and truth - old fashioned words -
The noisy mob deride.

"The statesman that should rule the realm
Coarse demagogues displace;
The glory of a thousand years
Shall end in foul disgrace.

The honour of old England,
Cotton shall buy and sell,
And hardware manufacturers
Cry "Peace - lo, all is well".

Trade shall be held the only good
And gain the sole device;
The statesman's maxim shall be peace,
and peace at any price.

"Her army and her navy
Britain shall cast aside;
Soldiers and ships are costly things,
Defence an empty pride.

"The German and the Muscovite
Shall rule the narrow seas;
Old England's flag shall cease to float
In triumph on the breeze.

"The footsteps of th' invader,
Then England's shore shall know,
While home-bred traitors give the hand
To England's every foe.

"Disarmed, before the foreigner,
The knee shall humbly bend,
And yield the treasures that she lacked
The wisdom to defend.

"But not for aye - yet once again,
When purged by fire and sword,
The land her freedom shall regain,
To manlier thoughts restored.

"Taught wisdom by disaster,
England shall learn to know,
That trade is not the only gain
Heaven gives to man below.

"The greed for gold departed
The golden calf cast down,
Old England's sons shall raise again
The Alter and the Crown.

"Rejoicing seas shall welcome
Their mistress once again;
Once more the banner of St George
Shall rule upon the main.

"The blood of the invader
Her pastures shall manure,
His bones unburied on her fields
For monuments to endure.

"Again in hall and homestead,
Shall joy and peace be seen,
And smiling children raise again
The maypole on the green.

"Again the hospitable board
Shall groan with Christmas cheer,
And mutual service bind again
The peasant and the peer.

"Again the smiling hedgerow
Shall field from field divide;
Again among the woodlands
The scarlet troop shall ride."

Again it seemed that aged fox,
More prophecies would say,
When sudden came upon the wind,
"Hark forrard, gone away".

Images of Oman: 2

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Orwell the fraud?

No, George Orwell wasn't a fraud. Orwell was never a fraud. But he faked it until he made it. For instance he changed his name from Eric Blair and faked his accent in a way PM Tony Blair would be proud of when talking to the plebs all those years ago by adapting his vowels to what is now called, 'mockney'. Unlike Tony Blair, Eric Blair would have been dead against the war in Iraq. But let us keep to his later name of George Orwell.

I like Orwell. I have done since reading Down and Out in Paris & London in my formative years. However, my take on the man has now been influenced by my reading of an acclaimed biography by D. J. Taylor. This is not a book review but a review of Orwell as seen through a biographical prism written nearly a decade ago.

Does your increased knowledge of his life and personality alter your appreciation of his literary work? a friend asks.

Well, I think it does. But not in the way I expected. My opinion of Orwell is affected by having some knowledge of his family and upbringing. He seems to personify what has become of the BBC today. Left Wing and full of guilt about their Middle Class identity. So what you get in the end is, I believe, a form of psychological compensation rather than truth.

Orwell's father worked in the opium trade in India. This was the British Raj of the late 19th century. After leaving Eton, Orwell signed up as an Imperial Policeman in Burma. Here he would experience killing an Elephant or at least eventually write about the experience.

After about seven years telling Burmese people what to do Orwell arrived back in England and decided that he would live and breathe amongst the working classes occasionally faking his accent to be accepted as one of them. Nevertheless many ordinary people realized that this tall strange man was somehow different and called him "sir" despite themselves.

But what motivated Orwell?

Many things, but guilt may have played its part in shaping his character which may have been the reason for a self pitying essay he once wrote which detailed an emotionally blighted education at a Prep school prior to obtaining an Eton scholarship.

After some investigation by the author, however, it turned out that Orwell magnified his grievances by a smaller or larger degree. For me it was the same old story of someone gaining a great education, finding success, and then saying such an education ought to banned.
Orwell complains about his childhood education; but it seems to me that without it he would have struggled to have made an impact in this world.

Orwell's biography reads differently. I liked his sense of independence although even this is tempered by the fact that he remained dependent on his parents for a long time - they would send him ten bob every now and then while he was writing about how hard it was to exist on a pittance while down and out in Paris and London - until the age of thirty five Orwell lived in the north Suffolk coastal town of Southwold, sometimes privately teaching local children.

What I did not know was that Orwell was a bit of a womanizer and cheated on his wife. Many times. In fact he asked her if she would accept his being with a 15 or 16 year Arab prostitute while on holiday in Marrakesh in Morocco. Apparently, his wife relented and the prostitute consented.

Now I would not wish to throw the first stone for reasons obvious to anyone with a degree in human nature but for someone who is often described by the Left as a secular saint I find all this at odds with sainthood unless the definition has changed in which case I would like my application to be considered with immediate effect.

Then there is the writing. Animal Farm is a brilliant fable which revealed something of the nature of communism - the reality of Soviet communism confronted Orwell in 1936 whilst fighting for the Republicans in Spain - which previous Western governments appeared at the time unable or unwilling to expose. In this sense Orwell shaped the modern world and can be considered as influential as Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul in defeating Soviet communist tyranny.

Personally, I think Orwell revealed a world previously unthought of in an earlier book, 'Down and Out in Paris & London'. This was an account of days out tramping about two cities exploring life and inspiring social conscience at the same time. Not a bad combination for a good man but like many before and after, he certainly was no saint.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The disUnited Kingdom

You delude yourself with thoughts on my opinion. Most of my friends are or have been Labour voters but even some of them have had to leave inner city areas of London because of falling educational standards and/or intimidation. It is all very well with you lecturing me about love thy neighbour or at least what is probably your own secularized left liberal version of this but in what town or street do you live? and what do you tolerate everyday in your life? Not everyone can be conveniently labelled as ‘a Nazi’ just because they happen to disagree with Multiculturalism; a project of social engineering abused by the last Labour goverment for purposes of creating their own client state. I recall a country without hardly any of these issues or problems and in many ways it was a better society for that. My father escaped three Nazi bombs in his London childhood and remembers the speeches of Winston Churchill as they were heard throughout the community of that time. He misses this age of respect and duty when no one screamed about their rights or about racism because there was no immediate reason to do so. That was when there was a sense of belonging and identity. A shared sense of history. Shared values too. But you seem to care very little about any of this preferring to focus on words such as: racism, genocide, bigotry, colour, violence, intolerance, etc etc. These words never meant much until the society they reflect today was forced upon the people of Britain. Still, as long as you can argue yourself to the top of the moral high ground who cares what the future brings to a fractured British society eh.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Omani placards

Further to the blog about yesterday's demonstration here is a picture of one of the many placards written by Omani students. It may well have been their first ever public protest and this has to be a precious thing. Some may say that there is a potential for discarding all things Western. These fears, in this instance, appear unfounded.

The interior of Oman

How much can happen in one job? I ask the question because where I currently work has seen teachers ask: how can tomorrow top that?

Since I arrived in Oman I have experienced sackings, resignations, arguments galore, public weeping, histrionics, strikes and now revolutions; and this is just the college where I teach English.

Add to this a public noticeboard where teachers names have been written for public consumption in the main college square. Names of teachers may have appeared in Arabic or English and were written by disaffected students to whom some grief over marking or teaching was alleged.

Yesterday morning events reached their peak when the Dean of the college was frog marched out of the college by Omani students. Finally, at high noon, all teachers were informed that they should leave the college immediately otherwise we would remain confined to barracks as it were. This has already happened elsewhere in a nearby town so we were not about to dismiss the possibility. We all quietly left en masse.

This morning, and with some trepidation, we returned to work. Lessons were attended by teachers alone. Everyone else is on strike. Such are the effects of the Middle East cultural tsunami.

There will be some in England who will see this from a particular religious context. This is because they know hardly anything about what is happening out here. What has happened has more to do with nationalism and Omanization than it has to do with anything else.

From an Omani point of view, and this view is not held by everyone, there are simply too many foreigners in their country. Of course, events which have unfolded since the uprising in Tunisia has given permission and empowerment to Omani students who, until now, did not appear to feel that they had a voice. Now they do.

Schools out, in Oman.

Definition of term, Omanization:

Saturday, 12 March 2011

A cultural tsunami

Things have been quiet until very recently. There was a riot in Sohar which was well publicized a few weeks ago. Several demonstrators died. What happened is some distance from the inland mountains where I now live here in a town in Oman where it is often far more traditional and conservative than the cosmopolitan coastal areas. However, even in this elevated position, things are changing fast. Students went on strike today asking for more money and better conditions. The strike is expected to last at least a week. Students spent the best part of of the day voicing their concerns and vocally demonstrating on the college campus.

Yesterday, in a nearby restaurant, an Omani student asked an English teacher to put out his cigarette. The teacher continued smoking aware of a voice commanding obedience and an intense stare. Eventually, the teacher finishes his cigarette and leaves. This small yet telling incident revealed in a college cafe earlier this afternoon suggests to me that there is now a new-found confidence amongst young people in Oman who are just beginning to find their voice. Whether this is a voice which imitates the West or opposes it; finds its own way in the world or rejects it, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the Arab region has created its very own cultural tsunami.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A clash of ignorance?

I am not in the business of fending off critical analysis on behalf of Samuel Huntingdon’s, Clash of Civilizations. If people do not agree with his thesis I can very easily live with that. I am not likely to agree with liberals on this score because we are unlikely to share the same first principles. Most liberals (those that think deeply enough) are cultural relativists. Indeed, relativism underscores much opinion today. But I believe most secular liberals these days display unthinking conformity with prevailing fashion. An original view on anything is not to be expected let alone articulated. My viewpoint is moderately right wing and to some extent libertarian. I do not hate Islam and find living in a Muslim country an enjoyable experience. What Huntingdon alerted myself and others to was a multiculturalist society requiring an ever increasing number of laws to keep everyone on board. The last Labour government introduced a new law every day for every day they were in power; they were in power for about thirteen years. That is a lot of days and a lot of new laws. This is what I would call left liberal authoritarianism. Britain is no longer a country which applauds free speech. In fact any criticism of, say, foreigners and homosexuals is as likely as not to invite Police interest. People no longer feel the need to assimilate into society because any criticism will affect the future of those who notice differences. But people define themselves by their differences so if the police are told to arrest anyone who comments on such matters it is national identity which will become confused; a people with a confused idea of their identity will not be a happy nation. It will become fractured. This is what happened to Yugoslavia (I have visited Croatia and Bosnia) which brings me full circle to Samuel Huntingdon’s thesis. Most people never asked politicians to misrepresent their views. A left liberal elite has dominated British politics for far too long. Only now is there a slight chance that this will change but it is probably far too late to right what Labour have done wrong.