Monday, January 24, 2011

A History of England - at least all that can be remembered.

I have been spending my evenings knitting yet another pair of socks ( a tale to this project) and reading on the computer Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" which has filled me in quite nicely on the times of Stephen and Maud, but while looking for another History of England that used to dwell on our library shelves in the house we moved from I stumbled across an old tattered and torn copy of '1066 and all that" by W.C. Sellar and R.J. Yeatman, c1931!

This book has been in my possession for a few years B.C. (before Charles) and I am not sure how it escaped the general dispersal when we moved, - probably because Sentimental Attachment hid it amongst the books to be kept.  Despite its antiquity I see that the book is still available from Amazon, and well recommended!

If you want to click and look inside you will have to go to Amazon to get a taste of this 'unique and hilarious spoof', and I would recommend you do that if you are anxious to appear  that you are better acquainted with English History than in truth you really are. This will give you the highlights that should carry you through any conversation about the Island's history that doesn't get too detailed.   And of course, there are now vast numbers of mini-series if you want visual entertainment as well.

If you do click and look inside this is quite likely what you will see, - a fine line drawing of the Magna Garter.

The first chapter will deal with the True English Kings, which ended with Edward the Confessor, since he was succeeded by "Waves of Norman Kings (French), Tudors, (Welsh), Stuarts, (Scottish) and Hanoverians (German, not to mention the memorable Dutch King Williamanmary"

As a Canadian I am particularly interested in the Chapter dealing with George 111, and no doubt some American bloggers remember the part George 111 played in their own history.
However, the part that interests me, and I quote "the elder Pitt at this time had the rather strategic idea of conquering Canada on the banks of the Elbe;  learning, however, that it was not there he told the famous poetic general, Wolfe, to conquer Quebec, instead.  At first Wolfe complained that he would rather write Gray's Elegy, but on being told that it had been written already (by Gray) he agreed to take Quebec.

Quebec was very difficult to approach;  Wolfe therefore rowed up the St. Laurence with muffled drums and ordered his Highland troops to skirt up the perpendicular Heights of Abraham with muffled boots, hoots, etc., thus taking the French by surprise.

At this engagement the French had a very peculiar general with the unusual French name of Keep-calm.

On receiving a muffled report to the effect that Wolfe's men had captured Quebec, one of his aides-de-calm called out: "See!  They fly!"  "Who fly?" asked the General, and, on being assured that it was his own men who were flying, "Thank God!" said Keep-calm, with a sigh of satisfaction.  "Now, I can fly in peace!"

There are equally discerning chapters on all the other Kings of England and their accomplishments, and scattered through the book there must be enough humour and wit to have accounted for it still being sold at Amazon and also carried on Library shelves

I do recommend it to you, although after the end of the Great War you are on your own, and will have to discover where this mad and merry account of history would have led you if it had only been written later.  Unless you can find the book entitled "1066 and all that - and now all this!"

River Stone #24

when viewed from a distance
and lightened with 
the yeast of irreverence.


Barb said...

A good poem about History as spoof!

ChrisJ said...

I must get a copy of that. I've known about it since I was in school (a long time ago!) but I don't think I've ever read it.