Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Stormont in a tea cup?

The other night I managed to watch Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes The Barley, which concerns early 20th Century Republicans and highlights the brutality of the Black & Tans. This is a period of history not taught in schools (well, not in my day. Though admittedly I may have been sketching colonies on Jupiter [I know now of course that Saturn is the only planet which can sustain human life] in my notebook, if not playing flea racing with Mike Pike, I'm sure I don't remember anything about Irish history, yet I can clearly recall the Bessemer burner and the Corn Law Repeal Act of 1777) but which I believe definitely should be. It has informed, and continues to inform, so much of the political landscape in the UK.
The following day, I watched some of Simon Schama's History of Britain, which was concerned with the Great Potato Famine, and the re-enacted scenes of the landlords wreaking havoc on the small communities in the West of Ireland in the aftermath of the famine echoed strongly for me as I watched the Black & Tans exacting their reprisals on the people.

Brown and Cowen (sorry, but - jeez, what a toad!) suddenly at Stormont. Stones at Altamont. Peter Robinson and Mrs Robinson, milf wife, though nobody's talking about that now, which indicates how seriously everyone is taking it. Ian Paisley, Bob Paisley (of an era, strangely, though of course the wrong Paisley is dead) Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness keeping those dissidents in check for the time-being. Well, it must be pretty boring going back to watching daytime TV and popping to the shops when you've been used to organising mass bombings and ambushes of the British Army, so the balaclava boys are no doubt itching to get out there again.

Did they use a fish-eye lens?

Mark Simpson reminds me of Patrick Kielty and his glasses are just the wrong side of fashion-conscious to be very annoying. He tells us - and we have to believe every word he says because he is wearing a nice black coat - that there is no prospect of a return to full-scale violence. The sticking points, according to the lovely Mark, are around policing and justice and those bloody awful parades those weirdos in the bowler hats seem to love so much. Personally speaking, I have always leaned towards the Republican cause, mostly because I never liked parades. Apart from the Rio and Notting Hill carnivals.


Michael said...

History taught in British schools? Well, there's Hitler. And a bit of Hitler. And some more Hitler. Oh, and something on World War Two.

Myeral said...

Kinda sexy, old Adolf.

I remember there being a fair bit about Enclosure and the Poor Law. Also, maybe it was a Shropshire thing, but there was a lot about iron and steel - Thomas Telford and that crowd - in my day.

My two are in primary, but they seem to be going reasonably in depth (for their age groups) about the Celts and the Tudors, with some help from BBC online.

I wonder what secondaries are like these days. Probably all proms and lockers.

Michael said...

The Poor Law was probably a bit too contemporary for the Thatcher years. We did a lot on the Western Front too (but nowt on the Celts).

Small wonder we were such twats on continental school trips.

Myeral said...

My French teacher in secondary school (Mr Pritchard) once introduced us to a real French person. The wind was taken out of his sails somewhat when it became apparent that he didn't have the faintest idea what the Frenchie was saying. How we laughed.