Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Lusitania

My friend showed me this medal which commemorates the sinking of the passenger liner Lusitania. The original was made by the German medalist, Karl Goetz, in August 1915. The side at the top shows people queuing for tickets at Cunard Line's office with the motto "Geschaft uber alles" (Business above all). A skeleton sells the tickets. On the left is a man reading a paper on which are the German words for "U-boat danger", while behind him is the figure of the German ambassador, Count Johann-Heinrich von Bernstorff, raising a finger as a reminder that the Germans had placed a warning advertisement in the same newspaper as the Cunard Lines sailing schedule.
The obverse shows the Lusitania sinking with armaments on deck and two German inscriptions. The one at the top says "No contraband goods!" and the one at the bottom "The liner Lusitania sunk by a German submarine 7 May 1915."
The ship was returning from New York to Liverpool in May 1915 and the German Embassy in Washington had issued a warning two weeks before that she may be in danger. She was torpedoed by a U-boat off the coast of Ireland, killing 1198 passengers. The US and the UK denied there were armaments on board and the incident led to America's involvement in the war. They were also appalled that Goetz could make such a medal and both governments made many copies of it and used them as anti-German propaganda.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Monday, 18 May 2015

Magna Carta

I went to a Magna Carta memorial concert in Odiham on Saturday and this was poem by Marriott Edgar was one of the readings:

I'll tell of the Magna Charter
As were signed at the Barons' command 
On Runningmead Island in t' middle of t' Thames 
By King John, as were known as "Lack Land." 

Some say it were wrong of the Barons 
Their will on the King so to thrust, 
But you'll see if you look at both sides of the case 
That they had to do something, or bust. 

For John, from the moment they crowned him, 
Started acting so cunning and sly, 
Being King, of course, he couldn't do wrong, 
But, by gum, he'd a proper good try. 

He squandered the ratepayers' money, 
All their cattle and corn did he take, 
'Til there wasn't a morsel of bread in the land, 
And folk had to manage on cake. 

The way he behaved to young Arthur 
Went to show as his feelings was bad; 
He tried to get Hubert to poke out his eyes, 
Which is no way to treat a young lad. 

It were all right him being a tyrant 
To vassals and folks of that class, 
But he tried on his tricks with the Barons an' all, 
And that's where he made a 'faux pas'. 

He started bombarding their castles, 
And burning them over their head, 
'Til there wasn't enough castles left to go round, 
And they had to sleep six in a bed. 

So they went to the King in a body, 
And their spokesman, Fitzwalter by name, 
He opened the 'ole in his 'elmet and said, 
Conciliatory like, " What's the game?"

The King starts to shilly and shally, 
He sits and he haws and he hums, 
'Til the Barons in rage started gnashing their teeth, 
And them with no teeth gnashed their gums 

Said Fitz, through the 'ole in his 'elmet, 
"It was you as put us in this plight." 
And the King having nothing to say to this, murmured 
"Leave your address and I'll write".

This angered the gallant Fitzwalter;
He stamped on the floor with his foot, 
And were starting to give John a rare ticking off, 
When the 'ole in his 'elmet fell shut. 

"We'll get him a Magna Charter,"
Said Fitz when his face he had freed; 
Said the Barons "That's right and if one's not enough, 
Get a couple and happen they'll breed.'' 

So they set about making a Charter, 
When at finish they'd got it drawn up, 
It looked like a paper on cattle disease, 
Or the entries for t' Waterloo Cup. 

Next day, King John, all unsuspecting, 
And having the afternoon free,
To Runningmead Island had taken a boat, 
And were having some shrimps for his tea. 

He'd just pulled the 'ead off a big 'un, 
And were pinching its tail with his thumb, 
When up came a barge load of Barons, who said, 
"We thought you'd be here so we've come" 

When they told him they'd brought Magna Charter, 
The King seemed to go kind of limp, 
But minding his manners he took off his hat 
And said " Thanks very much, have a shrimp." 

" You'd best sign at once," said Fitzwalter, 
" If you don't, I'll tell thee for a start
The next coronation will happen quite soon, 
And you won't be there to take part." 

So they spread Charter out on t' tea table, 
And John signed his name like a lamb, 
His writing in places was sticky and thick 
Through dipping his pen in the jam. 

And it's through that there Magna Charter, 
As were signed by the Barons of old, 
That in England to-day we can do what we like, 
So long as we do what we're told. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Shroner Wood

Many apologies for my absence which was due to a computer glitch. Here are some photos of the beautiful rhododendrons and bluebells in Shroner Wood, near Micheldever, to celebrate the Conservative victory last week: