India. A Portrait. Patrick French

Congress had not come this far, had not endured the Morley-Minto reforms (which allowed a limited number of Indians to elect legislators) and the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre (in which nearly 400 unarmed demonstrators were killed) and the Simon Commission (talks about talks) an the Round Table conferences (further talks, in London) and the Government of India Act for 1935 (which introduced some provincial self-government) and the Quit India movement (total opposition to British rule during the Second World War) and the Cripps Mission (a time-wasting exercise) and the Bengal famine (in which several mission people perished) and the Simla conference (further talks) and the tortuous negotiations with viceroys Wavell and Mountbatten and the baroque bigotry and chilly indifference of prime ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, let alone the beatings and marches and bandhs (general strikes) and dharnas (mass sit-ins) and the repeated terms of imprisonment, only to concede power to hereditary monarchs.

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London Tweed Run 2017

Tickets have just been announced for the ninth annual London Tweed Run on Saturday 6th May.

Those dashing chap and lassies kick off at 11:00 am from Clerkenwell before taking in some of London’s finest landmarks, making stops along the way for light refreshments, and ending up in the park for a drink and a bit of a knees up. Splendid.

Tickets available from www.tweedrun.com/tickets.

Anyone keen? I’ll get my cap.

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The Silly Hat Brigade

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Sir Herbert Samuel, seated centre, with Jerusalem church leaders and British officials, 1922.

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An Objective Adjective Order

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February 9, 2017 · 5:32 pm

Crusader Castles and a Folio Folly

Manifold things in life amaze me. Many things in life amuse me. But quite why anyone would want to re-print an hundred year old undergraduate thesis is quite beyond my ken. However, those nice people at the Folio Society have produce a sneaky 240 page edition of T E Lawrence’s lesser known work; Crusader Castles. And it is is a thing of some beauty.

As an undergraduate at Jesus College in 1909,  Lawrence travelled through Britain, France, Syria and Palestine to research his thesis on ‘The Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture to the End of the Twelfth Century’.

After visiting the major sites in England and Wales, Lawrence decided to cross Ottoman-controlled Syria on foot and by bicycle. He wanted to prove that, contrary to the received wisdom of the time, the castles built by the Normans during their campaigns were not influenced by Byzantine architecture, but conformed to a purely Western model. In 1909, Syria and the Holy Land were remote and dangerous destinations, and few historians had actually seen a crusader castle. His 1,100-mile journey was arduous in the extreme, but Lawrence succeeded in seeing 36 of the 50 castles on his itinerary, and acquired a taste for adventure. Letters home express his thrill at travelling incognito and immersing himself in Arabic culture. ‘I will have such difficulty in becoming English again: here I am Arab in habits, and slip in talking from English to French and Arabic unnoticing.

It seem that many of the hallmarks of his later career were already stamped this precocious undergraduate. I have always wanted to go and see the crusader castles of Syria and the Holy Land, but for some reason Becky does not seem as keen. Who knows, she might be more excited by my idea of going on holiday to the salt marshes of Iraq? Maybe?

Oh, and by the way, his painting still hangs in the dining room at Jesus College (see below), and the Bod still has his original thesis and notes (MSS. Eng. c. 6743, e. 3301)… if you can’t afford the Folio Society’s nice reprint.

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Shoe Event Horizon

I just love this. Thank you Douglas Adams. Thank you for making the world just a little bit better.

The Shoe Event Horizon is an economic theory that draws a correlation between the level of economic (and emotional) depression of a society and the number of shoe shops the society has.

The theory is summarized as such: as a society sinks into depression, the people of the society need to cheer themselves up by buying themselves gifts, often shoes. It is also linked to the fact that when you are depressed you look down at your shoes and decide they aren’t good enough quality so buy more expensive replacements. As more money is spent on shoes, more shoe shops are built, and the quality of the shoes begins to diminish as the demand for different types of shoes increases. This makes people buy more shoes.

The above turns into a vicious cycle, causing other industries to decline.

Eventually the titular Shoe Event Horizon is reached, where the only type of store economically viable to build is a shoe shop. At this point, society ceases to function, and the economy collapses, sending a world spiralling into ruin. In the case of Brontitall and Frogstar World B, the population forsook shoes and evolved into birds.

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Facing the Mountain

If you have a spare 20 minutes, perhaps in a lunch break, or waiting for the train, I can not more highly recommend Ross Harrison’s new film Facing the Mountain.

It is now available for free viewing on facingthemountain.com

Set in the sacred valley of Kedarnath in India’s lofty Garhwal Himalayas, Facing the Mountain explores what it means to live through disaster in a rapidly changing natural and social environment. The idea for the film was developed as part of his research into disaster risk and community resilience in changing high-mountain environments, which is supported by the University of Sheffield and the Dudley Stamp Memorial Award (administered by the Royal Geographical Society with IBG). More information can be found here.

Vimeo: vimeo.com/191685272

Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYnIu6xeglE

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Read an article by Ross Harrison, the director of the film: http://www.bit.ly/2eY4imV

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