Sunday, 31 August 2014

The new History curriculum and The Nursery History of England

So the teaching of history is to be overhauled and all children in primary school are to be taught a chronological history of 'Our Island Story.'  Well three cheers for that.

But if this is to happen schools will need to buy new books and - as luck would have it - I have a copy at my elbow of the very history book which every single child should be given as a basic 'primer' of history.

The Nursery History of England is probably the finest history book ever written. And I don't mean the finest 'childrens' history either -I mean the 'Finest' full stop. What is so horrifying of course is that when it was published, shortly before the Great War, every child in the land was taught the basics of British History and knew the dates of the kings and queens as well as the dates of the key events in the history of our Island. Now - talking to my children's friends - or actually middle aged adults -I am horrified by their complete ignorance.

So what is so brilliant about the Nursery History of England?  In one word- it is pictures. Glorious technicolour pictures as well.  Open the book at random and on one page there will be two beautifully painted pictures of events in history while -on the page opposite- are two short explanatory paragraphs.  My sisters and I poured over this book in our childhood and -if I close my eyes -I can recall many of the pictures from my memory bank. King Alfred burning the cakes, King Cnut ordering back the waves, King John and the Magna Carta, the Empress Matilda fleeing across a snow covered landscape and so on. All the great stories are here.

All right -I will admit - perhaps some of the sentiments and views expressed may jar with some of our friends in the Urban Metropolitan elite.  Take the final entry which concerns King George V's visit to India.

One of the biggest countries which belongs to England is India.  It is very hot and poor English people do not go out there, but just a few English people who help to rule the country. There are a great many Indian princes. A short time ago king George and queen Mary went out to India, and the Indian princes went and bowed down before them to do them honour. Some of them brought presents, and it was a very fine sight. The king and queen wish India to be happy and all the other lands they rule as well.     

Great Stuff - and absolutely true.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Vote for Bob - or the hypocrites of the RSPB

At the bottom of the page on the Daily Mail on line there was an appealing photograph of a red squirrel with the strap line - Vote for Bob.

Now I love red squirrels so I clicked on the image and found myself transported to a web site that - weirdly-has nothing to do with red squirrels but is a campaign site for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).  On this website under the image of Bob the red squirrel was the following:

'I may be a small red squirrel but I have big ambitions. I want my young - and yours -to inherit a world where they can thrive .....'

Yes - well so do I Bob - unfortunately you are not getting any help from the RSPB - rather the opposite in fact. It would have been far more accurate if the RSPB -instead of showing the appealing picture of a happy Bob -had shown  Bob being torn to pieces by a ravenous goshawk.  The RSPB is - actually - a bird organisation and not a squirrel one and near the top of the list of birds the RSPB is most keen on is the goshawk which regards squirrels as a special treat.

So far so bad - but even worse is the sheer gall of the RSPB in using an image of a red squirrel when it has done absolutely nothing to help save this endangered species from extinction in the UK. The red squirrel is almost extinct in England and is on the retreat virtually everywhere with a few exceptions where - the energy and skill of a few dedicated people have caused the red squirrel to make a comeback -with -it goes without saying - no help from the RSPB.

The key to the survival of the red squirrel is the elimination of the introduced American grey squirrel. Yes - get rid of the grey squirrel and once again Bob could ' ..have big ambitions'  and '....want his young to inherit a world where they can thrive.' But that ain't going to happen unless we learn how to eliminate the grey squirrel.

So what exactly is the RSPB doing to achieve this aim? Is it funding much needed research into the habits etc. of the grey squirrel with a view to improving our knowledge of this rodent and thus making our control methods more efficient? No it isn't

Has it issued traps to all it's wardens in it's reserves with instructions to zealously pursue grey squirrels with the aim of wiping them out? No it hasn't

Has it actually done anything to help preserve the red squirrel as pat of the fauna of these islands -No it hasn't.

So how dare it use Bob's image. Well it is the RSPB and has a total contempt for the truth about nature and has long got away with a policy of being - at best - economical with the truth regarding the world of birds and beasts.    

Monday, 25 August 2014

ISIS and the influence of Focus groups on Policy

I can't quite get a grip on Cameron's Middle East policy - if -that is - he has one. A year ago he was mustard keen to bomb shit out of President Assad but now he hangs back and wrings his hands over genocidal activities of  ISIS and does nothing except go surfing at Polzeath.

Of course he may just be feeling a mite embarrassed about his track record as a 'war leader ' to date.  The bombing of Libya did indeed succeed in getting rid of Gadaffii but the result is a completely lawless 'failed state.'  Whilst if he had got his way and bombed President Assad into defeat the likely result would have been a total take over of Syria by the very fanatics who are now causing mayhem in Northern Iraq with massacres of minorities on a truly biblical scale.

Listening to our Foreign Secretary - the accountant Hammond - on the radio -I was truck by a phrase he used when asked about the possibility of British Military involvement. He categorically stated that this would not involve 'boots on the ground' because;  'he was not sure the British public would stand or it '

The scales fell from my eyes - now I know where our strategy is made - not in the Foreign Office - nor the MOD -or even in Downing Street - but in focus groups!  Strange how politicians hide behind 'the British people' supposed wishes when it suits them but but ignore them when it doesn't. So- to give two examples - immigration controls continue to be joke and the activities of lawyers feathering their nest from the Human Rights Act continues to be a scandal  but politicians do nothing about either.

Looking back to the 1930's most historians are of the opinion that if the Britain and France had reacted with force to the occupation of the Rhineland by German troops Hitler may well have fallen.  Movements such as ISIS need to be squashed early and not allowed to prosper. Sadly the only way to achieve this result is for 'boots on the ground' as - frankly - the Iraq army has shown itself to be a toy town joke and the Syrians are fully engaged already.

It is ironic that minority religious and racial groups who have lived and prospered for two thousand years or more are now threatened with total extermination.  So I suppose we must wait for some truly horrendous massacres to take place in the new 'Caliphate' before 'the focus groups' change their minds and give our politicians the go ahead to launch a proper military campaign. Beats me why we bother paying salaries to our supposed leaders - who do no leading but instead -react.