Tuesday 19 November 2013

The Silence of Colonel Bramble

I was a very bookish child and my parents worried that I would live life at second-hand. I wonder if I did. Anyhow, when I was fourteen one of my favourite books was The Silence of Colonel Bramble, a very funny and charming book, or so I thought when I was 14. It is one of only two or three books that I tried to read in French. Now when I mention André Maurois people correct me and say you mean Andre Malraux. 

I have just found it on the net and recommend it to you. Dipping into it, its charm has not diminished for me.

' We are a curious nation," said Major Parker. ' To interest a Frenchman in a boxing match you must tell him that his national honour is at stake. To interest an English- man in a war you need only suggest that it is a kind of a boxing match. Tell us that the Hun is a barbarian, we agree politely, but tell us that he is a bad sportsman and you rouse the British Empire." 
" It is the Hun's fault," said the colonel sadly, " that war is no longer a gentleman's game." 
" We never imagined," continued the major, " that such cads existed. Bombing open towns is nearly as unpardonable as fishing for trout with a worm, or shooting a fox." 
"You must not exaggerate, Parker," said the colonel calmly. * They are not as bad as that yet." 
 " But don't you find yourself, Aurelle," went on Major Parker, " that intelligence is over-estimated with you? It is certainly more useful to know how to box than how to write. You would like Eton to go in for noth- ing but learning? It is just like asking a trainer of racehorses to be interested in circus horses. We don't go to school to learn, but to be soaked in the prejudices of our class, without which we should be useless and unhappy. We are like the young Persians Herodotus talks about, who up to the age of twenty only learnt three sciences: to ride, to shoot and to tell the truth."  

"That may be' said Aurelle, "but just see, major, how inconsistent you are. You despise learning and you quote Herodotus. Better still, I caught you the other day in the act of reading a translation of Xenophon in your dug-out. "

A wonderful funny and inspiring book and a handbook for how England should be.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Me nationalism

I met a very nice Hungarian in Mercurea Ciuc who told me his two names were both Hungarian warrior names (one was Levente, the other I forget). I asked him if he were therefore a Hungarian nationalist and he said, 'No. I am a me nationalist, a me and the

The Bucharest I love

Bucharest used to be mostly shops like this fifteen years ago. I have watched the advance of progress here with dismay. Acknowledgements to Bucurest Saizecist and Bucuresti Realist, whose wonderful page I recommend.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Pasajul Englez

Oddly, a couple of hours after seeing this picture on the Bucharest Realist Facebook page and hearing of Pasajul Englez, I accidentally found and walked down Pasajul Englez  - for

Thursday 14 November 2013


"I've come here more times as prime minister than I've been anywhere other than Belgium." 
- David Cameron , New Delhi , November, 2013 ...

" ... if India should go ... England, from having been the arbiter, would sink into the inglorious playground of the world. Wondering pilgrims would come to see us just as they climb the Acropolis or inspect the Nile... A congested population would lead a sordid existence with no outlet for its overflow, no markets for its manufactures ... swallowed up in a whirlpool of American cosmopolitanism ... our aspirations defined only by a narrow and selfish materialism ... England would become a sort of glorified Belgium."

- Lord Curzon , Birmingham, December, 1907 ...

"In the seventies we tried being Belgium and we didn't like it."

Julie Burchill, sometime in the 1980s

(Acknowledgments to Julian Craig for bringing the first two quotations to my attention.)

Saturday 9 November 2013

Getting bored with Islam

I'm beginning to get bored with reading about Islam in the news every day. Do others feel this way? Interesting though the subject was for a long time. 

This thought was provoked by reading this sad article in The Spectator. Not only are tomb robbers rife in Egypt today but Muslim fanatics trying to destroy ancient Christian and much older monuments for being un-Islamic. This makes me wish we could reconvert Egypt to Christianity, though it reminds me of the fanaticism of the Iconoclasts and the 16th century Protestants. A friend of mine, an American who lives in Nazareth and is trying to encourage conversions of Jews and Muslims, says that many Muslims in the region are converting to Christianity. Far, far more Christians, though, are fleeing the region. Canada beckons and the multiracial post-Christian West.

When I was at university - and I was better read than any undergraduate I met - I did not know anything about Islam or Hinduism or have any idea what the difference between the
two was. I am  pretty sure I did not know that Muslims were circumcised, did not eat pork and did not drink. 

I asked a financial journalist friend when I was in my late 20s, 
'You know the Jews have the sabbath and Christians have Sunday, do the Muslims have a holy day?'
and I remember my amour propre being hurt that she knew that they did and it was Friday. I felt very proud of myself, entering my first mosque, the Blue Mosque, aged 28, because I knew that you have to take your shoes off entering a  mosque. 

I suspect that Macaulay's omniscient schoolboy (to whom, as an annoyingly well-informed child, I in some ways approximated) would nowadays know all these things. Times change and we change with them but, although I want people to be as well informed as possible about the humanities (I don't give a fig for the sciences, of course) this increase in knowledge does not elate me.

I am much more interested in Yazzidism, since I visited Lalish the centre of the Yazzidi faith, in Iraq.

Friday 8 November 2013

Today is St Michael and St Gabriel's Day in the Orthodox calendar

Image result for mihai gavril

King Michael celebrates his saint's day today. O good old man, how well in thee appears the constant service of the antique world. La mulţi ani, Majestate!

Some poet (a modern, was it Robert Graves?) wrote something about deposed kings with faces seen on much used coins, almost rubbed out, or something.

Today, along with their King, Romanians celebrate angels. Many happy returns of SS Michael and Gabriel's Day to your Majesty and all Mihaelas, Mihailas, Mihais, Gabriels and Gabrielas.

Like last year I have been too lazy to write anything but for details of Romanian traditions about this day click here. The Mihais, Mihailas and Gabis I spoke to had not heard of any of these traditions. But it is a joy to live in a country where saints' days are universally celebrated, even by atheists. Romania is in so many ways more civilised than England.

Archangels and angels are not given very much attention these days by the devout in post-Protestant countries like England or America (one exception is this book by Dr. Martin Israel), but in late antiquity they were very much venerated and still are by Romanians, who understand that religion is about the supernatural.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

A mystic solidarity with the land of one’s birth

I just found this quotation from Mircea Eliade. This is probably from his semi-fascist early phase but still it is good.

“Until recently there persisted among Europeans the obscure awareness of a mystic solidarity with the land of one’s birth. It was not a commonplace love of

Are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?

"Every major question in history is a religious question. It has more effect in moulding life than nationalism or a common language." 
Hilaire Belloc
Religion underlies economics, not vice versa as the Communists thought. This is true at all times and in all places, including our own as Roger Scruton shows here, talking about the

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Sweden and the decline of the West

On October 1, four candidates to be Archbishop of Uppsala, the highest position in the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, were interviewed by church officials in front of the media and, among other questions, were asked, “Does Jesus provide a truer picture of God than Muhammad?” Only one of the candidates said that He does. (This candidate came second.)
The woman who got the job, Antje Jackelén, answered:
“One cannot reduce the whole of religious theology, that is to say the question of how different religions relate to one another, to a yes-and-no question. It
amounts to doing violence to a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be found there.”
I would have thought the question could easily have been answered skirting the subject of Muhammad altogether and talking about the divinity of Jesus. Even Hans Kung would agree that Jesus is essential to salvation.

The Archbishop-elect of Uppsala is not to be confused with the Bishop of Stockholm, who is a lesbian, lives with her woman priest partner and is the world's first openly active
homosexual bishop. I am not making this up.

As it happens, I saw my first ever woman priest in 2007 in Stockholm Cathedral. It was a surprise to see a woman priest but I was astonished to see that she was an absolutely beautiful blonde. I hadn't expected that. This seems to me an additional reason to think women cannot be clergy. However, women have been ordained in the Swedish state church for fifty years.

Despite its strongly feminist public culture, Sweden, once a very law-abiding country, has the worst rape figures in Europe. Many rapes are committed by immigrants. The conservative Norwegian blogger Fjordman wrote this very interesting essay, which deserves reading, on the subject of Swedish attitudes to what I call sex but is now called gender.

A day after writing this comes fresh news from Sweden: they are going to introduce ratings to warn about sexism in films.

Sunday 3 November 2013

My take on the Middle East

I wish Libya, Egypt and Iraq were still pro-British monarchies and I think Eisenhower's sabotage of the UK over the Suez intervention is the reason the Middle East is such a mess. 

It would be better yet if the whole Middle East were all still in the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine. The Ottoman Empire after the Young Turks took over in 1908 became a parliamentary state. King Abdullah I of Jordan was before the First World War the freely elected MP of Mecca in the parliament in Constantinople. A democratic federal Ottoman Empire would have all the oil and ideally would be a confederation with Greece but if such a confederation had joined the EU it would, of course, be bankrupt now.

Instead we have the situation we have, and Israel, a transplant that has not taken. Israel is in a strong position but the strength of the Arabs is the strength of their huge anger.

The Left nowadays hate Israel (it wasn't so, thirty years ago) and not only for the bad things but also for the good things about the country, such as it being an ethnic state and being an outpost of Western civilisation, what Theodor Herzl called
"a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilisation as opposed to barbarism".
The  bad things, on the other hand, start with the fact that Israelis are squatting on land to which they do not have a very good claim - in many cases literally as well as figuratively - though they have acquired squatters' rights. In fact, they acquired those rights at the latest in 1948, when the Arab countries expelled their Jews who found refuge in Israel. The numbers of Arabs who fled Israel and Jews who were expelled from the Arab lands were roughly equal. This does not excuse the Jews' behaviour up to 1948.

The bad things continue with the way in which Israeli Jews are colonising the West Bank. 

The Arabs in Israel have the best conditions in the Arab world but they have nevertheless suffered a great injustice in what is now Israel and to visit the country is to feel this strongly. But the same is true of the Turks and Greeks who ethnically cleansed each other. So did Pakistan and India. 

People are right to sympathise with the Arabs but the Israelis are pilloried in large part because they are seen as white, not because they have a wicked regime by the standards of the world we live in. Ironically, after being hated for centuries for being Asiatic, Jews are now hated for being European. 

I am delighted Israel exists, by the way, love the country, love going there, yet certainly regret its existence too. I think this position is not illogical, but it only seems to make me enemies.

Please click here to see what people told me in Jerusalem when I was there this summer.

The Wrong Box

Which is the funniest book of all time in your opinion? 

It might be Decline and Fall, Scoop or A Handful of Dust but it might be this unjustly obscure (and oddly modern) masterpiece by Robert Louis Stevenson and his stepson.