Category Archives: politics

General Kelly and Forester’s ‘The General’

Chief of Staff John Kelly has the reputation of being the most stable figure in President Trump’s chaotic White House. From what one can gather, he has brought a semblance of order and organisation to the place, and has engineered the removal of some of Mr Trump’s more erratic political associates. Earlier this year, he […]

Kipling the pacifist?

Poems often take on new lives and different identities once they get away from the poet, but Rudyard Kipling might have been rather interested, and maybe even amused, by the annexation of his work by pacifists. Here is an article from the Camden New Journal last week:

Strong and Stable

Today’s Guardian has a letter from Dr David Blazey of Newcastle pointing out that Teresa May’s slogan ‘strong and stable’ is a cliche referenced by Galsworthy in The Forsyte Saga. The Guardian website illustrates the letter with a pretty picture of late Victorian poshness, but the quotation is in fact from a later instalment of […]

Who is the politician?

I’m currently reading (and admiring) C.R. Benstead’s 1930 novel, Retreat, whose central figure is a chaplain attached to an artillery unit in the Fifth Army during the momentous  German assault of March-April 1918. The novel graphically describes the efforts of the over-extended unit to hold their position as the Germans relentlessly advanced. But a detail […]

‘The Statue’ by Eden Philpotts and Arnold Bennett

The Statue (1908) by Eden Philpotts and Arnold Bennett links in a way to the ‘Future War’ fiction of the pre-1914 era, since the plot is overshadowed by the possibility of crisis and conflict between France and Germany. Both countries are vying to provide a huge loan to the Sultan of Morocco, with a rivalry […]

‘Dawn’: Edith Cavell and the censors

On Saturday, at the splendid Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, we had a rare chance to see the 1929 film Dawn, about Edith Cavell. It’s a remarkable film, and it was made more enjoyable by the four short talks that preceded it.

Billy Bunter versus the Suffragettes

This November I’ll be giving a talk on the wartime Magnet comics to the Being Young in World War One conference in Manchester. I’ll be arguing that the comics had a nuanced approach to the war, remaining firmly patriotic while suggesting that the demands of war should not make people forget the civilised decencies of […]

‘The Tribunal’

Councillor Hopwood (to a conscientious objector at Shaw Tribunal, asking for exemption): I think you are exploiting God to save your own skin. It is nothing but deliberate and rank blasphemy. A man who would not help to defend his country and womankind is a coward and a cad. You are nothing but a shivering […]

A. A. Milne’s ‘The Boy Comes Home’

There’s a silver lining Through the dark clouds shining, Turn the dark cloud inside out ‘Til the boys come home. Thanks to Simon Thomas for pointing me in the direction of A. A. Milne’s 1918 one-act play The Boy Comes Home (included in First Plays, online at Project Gutenberg). At the Victoria Palace in September, […]

We’ve paid for the War! (well, sort of)

The chancellor announced yesterday that, after a century, the Treasury is about to repay all the nation’s First World War debt. The outstanding £1.9 billion of debt from 3½% War Loan bonds will be repaid next year. George Osborne said:This is a moment for Britain to be proud of. We can, at last, pay off […]