Saturday, October 25, 2008

St Crispin's Day...

I suppose the fact that today is St Crispin's Day gives added resonance to this story in today's Telegraph.

As I see it, it amounts to suggestions from revisionist (and mainly French) historians, that we English won the Battle of Agincourt, which was fought 593 years ago today, by committing what would now be considered war crimes.

My initial reaction would be to use one of my late father's favourite sayings, usually directed at me as I complained that my football team had somehow been cheated out of a deserved victory by some (allegedly) nefarious means...
"Look it up in the paper tomorrow, son; the result will still be the same."
That saying never ceased to frustrate me, mostly because I knew he was right.

But having given the matter further consideration, allow me instead by way of a response to turn to a famous passage from Henry V by William Shakespeare; arguably the greatest Englishman who ever lived, dealing with the thoughts of the English on the eve of the battle:


O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day!


What's he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland?

No, my fair cousin; If we are mark'd to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires.

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.

God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more methinks would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse;

We would not die in that man's company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,

Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,

And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,

And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,

But he'll remember, with advantages,

What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,

Familiar in his mouth as household words-

Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-

Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen in England now-a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Maintaining a strictly neutral and academic attitude towards this revisionist French nonsense I would comment thus: look the it up in the paper tomorrow morning, Frenchy; the result will still be the same!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A bit more stat pron...

My regular reader may recall that having put the flag counter on my blog in June, I allowed myself to entertain hopes of attracting a thousand visitors by Christmas.

I am very pleased to be able to report that the Throne recently streaked past that number more than ten weeks earlier than I had hoped.

My visitor numbers may not be large by linked-blog standards, but they are both important and a source of some pride to me.

So thank you all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Should she stay or should she go...

There's an interesting story in some of today's Scottish papers, focussing on a suggestion made by Christine Grahame, the SNP MSP for the South of Scotland, that the remains of Mary Queen of Scots should be disinterred from their current resting place in Westminster Abbey and repatriated to Scotland.

She is supported in her view by a composer named James McMillan (of whom, I must confess, I have never heard) various historians and the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.

What intrigues me is that Mary was so unpopular during her reign, punctuated as it was by at least one allegation of murder, that she was forced to abdicate in 1567, in favour of her then one-year-old son, James and flee to England to save her own life.

Unable to resist the usual attack on the perfidious English, Ms Grahame describes Mary as an iconic figure from Scottish history (no arguments so far) who was ultimately the victim of English plotting...

Err, no Christine, Mary was caught red handed plotting to overthrow Elizabeth and to seize the English throne and that is why a very, very reluctant Elizabeth had to order her execution.

Frankly, I have no strong feelings either way about Mary's final resting place. However, as all schoolboy historians now know, the infant son who succeeded her as James VI of Scotland subsequently inherited the throne of England on Elizabeth's death, becoming James VI and I and it was at his direction - the direction of (no pun intended) the last king of Scotland - that his mother's remains were interred in Westminster Abbey.

Perhaps he - her son - should have the final word as to where his mother's remains spend eternity.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

There's no pockets in shrouds...

I suppose that by now, virtually everyone in the Western world has had a bad experience with a call centre; I know I have. But the story I reproduce below, which there's no surprise for guessing originates in America, must just about take the biscuit.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but was by now somewhere around $60.00.

A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'Maybe, you should turn it over to collections.'

Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'

Family Member: 'So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'

Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'

Citibank: 'Excuse me?'

Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'

Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.' Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'

Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'

Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)

Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'

Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given ) After they get the fax :

Citibank: 'Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'

Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'

Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.'

Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'

Citibank: 'That might help...'

Family Member: ' Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'

Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'

Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet?'

And you thought our call centres - or should that be Indian call centres - were bad!

Ps. The title of this post is a Lancastrianism roughly equating to "You can't take it with you."