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Category archive: Anglosphere

Wednesday March 16 2016

I am reading Steven Johnson’s book, The Invention of Air, which is about the life and career of Joseph Priestley.

Early on (pp. 10-12) there is a delightful bit concerning Benjamin Franklin, and his early investigations into the Gulf Stream:

In 1769, the Customs Board in Boston made a formal complaint to the British Treasury about the speed of letters arriving from England.  (Indeed, regular transatlantic correspondents had long noticed that letters posted from America to Europe tended to arrive more promptly than letters sent the other direction.) As luck would have it, the deputy postmaster general for North America was in London when the complaint arrived - and so the British authorities brought the issue to his attention, in the hope that he might have an explanation for the lag.  They were lucky in another respect: the postmaster in question happened to be Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin would ultimately turn that postal mystery into one of the great scientific breakthroughs of his career: a turning point in our visualization of the macro patterns formed by ocean currents.  Franklin was well prepared for the task.  As a twenty-year-old, traveling back from his first voyage to London in 1726, he had recorded notes in his journal about the strange prevalence of “gulph weed” in the waters of the North Atlantic.  In a letter written twenty years later he had remarked on the slower passage westward across the Atlantic, though at the time he supposed it was attributable to the rotation of the Earth.  In a 1762 letter he alluded to the way “the waters mov’d away from the North American Coast towards the coasts of Spain and Africa, whence they get again into the Power of the Trade Winds, and continue the Circulation.” He called that flow the “gulph stream.”

When the British Treasury came to him with the complaint about the unreliable mail delivery schedules, Franklin was quick to suspect that the “gulph stream” would prove to be the culprit.  He consulted with a seasoned New England mariner, Timothy Folger, and together they prepared a map of the Gulf Stream’s entire path, hoping that “such Chart and directions may be of use to our Packets in Shortning their Voyages.” The Folger/Franklin map ...

image

… was the first known chart to show the full trajectory of the Gulf Stream across the Atlantic. But the map was based on anecdotal evidence, mostly drawn from the experience of New England-based whalers.  And so in his voyage from England back to America in 1775, Franklin took detailed measurements of water temperatures along the way, and detected a wide but shallow river of warm water, often carrying those telltale weeds from tropical regions.  “I find that it is always warmer than the sea on each side of it, and that it does not sparkle in the night,” he wrote.  In 1785, at the ripe old age of seventy-nine, he sent a long paper that included his data and the Iolger map to the French scientist Alphonsus le Roy.  Franklin’s paper on “sundry Maritime Observations,” as he modestly called it, delivered the first empirical proof of the Gulf Stream’s existence.

I added that map in the middle of that quote, which I found here.  (I love the internet.)

Until now, I knew nothing of this Gulf Stream story.  The reason I knew nothing of this Gulf Stream story is that I know very little about eighteenth century history of any sort.  This book by Johnson looks like it will be a pain-free way to start correcting that.

Thursday February 12 2015

Last night, seeking to illustrate a point made in the previous posting about how things on the ground look like toys, when viewed from an airplane, I failed to find any pictures of my own to illustrate the point, but I did come across this:

image

Triple Chess!!!  I did not know that such a thing existed, as a serious thing, until last night.

I took this photo in 2008, but it was one of those photos that I took and then instantly forgot about.  Then, later, when looking through the photos I took, I skipped straight over this one and concentrated on others taken at the same time, so I did not actually learn of the existence of Triple Chess, in 2008, when I photoed it, even though I had just photoed it.

Also in this photo is another strange contrivance: the Four Wheeled Pedal Board.  How the hell does that work?  Judging by the absence of any feedback at the other end of that link, the Four Wheeled Pedal Board never caught on.  Perhaps because nobody else could see how it worked either.  And perhaps also because it actually did not work?  “How far”, asks the box, “can you go without falling off?” I’m guessing that for most the answer was: not very far at all.

Despite the instructions for the Four Wheeled Pedal Board being in English, this photo of stuff in a shop window was taken in France, in Quimper, a city which regulars here will know that I often visit.

And look, there is a website. Does the fact that this Four Wheeled Pedal Board seems to be an Anglo invention reflect the continuing interest of Anglo culture in pointless gadgets, in mucking about instead of doing serious things?  Because in Angloland we think that mucking about can lead to serious things?  Perhaps.

Some might seize on all this as illustrating the fact that photography is a substitute for really looking at things.  I photoed it, but I didn’t actually look at it!  But, I am looking at it now.  And, do people who do not take photos look carefully at everything that they see?  Of course not.  The real problem with photography (as I recall mentioning in this talk I recently gave about photography) is not that you don’t look at things, but that you are liable to spend your entire life looking at things and never doing anything else.

Note also the red, white and blue accordion, bottom right.  Confirmation of the Anglophile inclinations of this shop?  Well, no, because the French are also big on red, white and blueness, aren’t they?

Tuesday January 27 2015

Lexington Green, here:

What if … ?

What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?

What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?

What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?

In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?

What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?

What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?

What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?

What if linguistic and cultural commonalities are more important than mere geographical location in creating political unity in this newly shrunken world?

I recall musing along the same kind of lines myself, a while back.

The important thing is, this mustn’t be advertised first as a plan.  If that happens, then all the people who are against the Anglosphere, and who prefer places like Spain and Venezuela and Cuba and Hell, will use their ownership of the Mainstream Media to Put A Stop to the plan.  What needs to happen is for us to just do it, and then after about two decades of us having just done it, they’ll realise that it is a fate (as the Hellists will describe it) accompli.

Because, guess what, we probably are already doing it.

Tuesday May 20 2014

Regulars here, or for that matter there, will know that I have for many years now been at enthusiastic fan of the French historian and social scientist Emmanuel Todd.  In recent years, this enthusiasm has at last started to become a bit more widespread.

Two of the world’s most important Todd-enthusiasts are now James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus.  Quite a while ago now, they sent me an email flagging up a piece they had contributed to Hungarian Review, which contains some interesting biography about Todd, and about how his own particular family history contributed towards making him into the historian of the world that he later became.

Todd developed this grand theory, about how literacy triggers particular sorts of political upheavals in particular places, depending on Family Structure, and then when the political dust has settled fuels economic development, But what got Todd thinking about all this?

According to Bennett and Lotus, the starting point was: How Come The French Communists Are Doing So Badly And Never Seem To Do Any Better No Matter What They Try?

He was the product of an extended family of French Communist Party activists and journalists, and grew up hearing his father and relatives arguing around the kitchen table. Anglo-Americans had tended to regard the French Communist Party of that era as formidable, successful, and continually on the verge of seizing power. From the inside, Todd grew up hearing his family lament the eternal failure and futility of the Party. (He left the orthodox Communist movement quite early, and in fact was one of the first scholars to predict, in 1976, the coming collapse of the Soviet system.) For some reason, the Party was well established in certain regions, and completely without support in most others. The Socialists were dominant in others, and it was noticed that the same social classes would tend to support either Socialists or Communists, depending on the region, but never split between the two, and when they failed to support the one, would not switch to the other, preferring alternative parties. In other parts of France, neither party had a foothold, and the same social classes that supported either Socialists or Communists in their stronghold regions supported entirely different, and not particularly Marxist, parties. The reason for this split was constantly debated in Todd’s family circle, but no possible explanation seemed to hold water. It was a great mystery.

Once Todd began studies at Cambridge, and encountered what we are calling the Continuity School, he began developing a social analysis that perfectly predicted the voting patterns that had been such a mystery in his family’s kitchen debates. France is far from homogenous, and in fact is a patchwork of quite different cultures and family systems. When Todd saw the distribution of the various family systems of France, as established by inheritance rules and customs, he saw at once that both the Communist and Socialist electoral strongholds corresponded to the areas dominated by two distinct family systems. Where other systems prevailed, neither the Communists nor the Socialists could gain any real foothold.

You can see how Todd was perfectly primed to generalise the principle from France, and then England, to the entire world.

In the course of my Todd readings and meanderings, I probably was told (perhaps by Todd himself in his book about French politics (which I have long possessed (and which I see you can now get second hand for £2.81 (in English)))) that Todd had been raised by baffled and frustrated Communists.  But I had not really taken it in.

Thursday November 28 2013

Is this book … :

image

… the same book as this book?:

image

It turns out that they are the same book.  Hannan:

I set out to answer these questions in my book, published in North America as Inventing Freedom and in the rest of the Anglosphere as How we Invented Freedom.

But, are they precisely the same?  I mean: same intro?  Same preface?  Any other small tinkerings?  If the Yanks (maybe the Brits?) changed the damn title, what the hell else did they change?

I find this kind of thing intensely annoying.  The whole point of reading something like a book, or watching something like a movie, is that you read (or watch) precisely the same object as everybody else.  (This being one reason why I so particularly resent censorship.  It prevents me, again and again, from seeing what others elsewhere are seeing.)

The best you can say about this muddle is that at least this/these book/books seem to be coming out at approximately the same time.

How we invented Freedom is nevertheless in the post.

Sunday July 07 2013

Incoming from Craig Willy, of whom I did not know until now:

Hello Brian,

I see you’ve written a great deal on Emmanuel Todd. I have just written a summary of his big history book, L’invention de l’Europe. I thought you might find it interesting.

I also see you have the impression he mainly criticizes the U.S. for being a “hollowed out,” financialized “fake” economy. In fact he is incredibly critical of the eurozone, for that very reason, which he argues is responsible for the hollowing out, dysfunction and financialism of the French and peripheral European economies.

All the best, and feel free to share if you write anything new on Todd. My Twitter.

Craig

In response to my email thanking him for the above email, and asking if he has written anything else about Todd, Willy writes:

I discuss him a fair bit on my Twitter feed as he offends many with his criticism of Germany and euroskepticism. Otherwise I just wrote this short piece on Todd and the euro from a while back.

This I have now read.  Very interesting, and I think very right.  Interesting parallel between the Euro and the Algerian War.

Things appear to be really motoring on the Todd-stuff-in-English front.  At last.

Sunday June 16 2013

This is a short posting, just to make a note of some links that I have acquired, to things about Emmanuel Todd.  Microsoft is in the habit of shutting down my computer without warning, and I don’t want to have to go hunting for them again.

Here is a review of a new book about America called America 3.0 (which I already have on order from Amazon), by James Bennet and Michael Lotus.  This book includes some of Todd’s ideas about family structure by way of explaining why the America of the near future will be particularly well suited to the free-wheeling individualism of the next few years of economic history.

In this review, T Greer says:

I was delighted to find that much of this analysis rests of the work of the French anthropologist Emmanuel Todd. I came across Mr. Todd’s work a few months ago, and concluded immediately that he is the most under-rated “big idea” thinker in the field of world history.

Spot on.

Greer also makes use of this map, which first appeared in this New York Times article:

image

Slowly, very slowly, Emmanuel Todd is starting to be noticed in the English speaking world.

Sunday July 08 2012

Last week I used one of the photos I took at the new Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner as a Samizdata Quote of the Day.

Here are some other snaps I took of the Memorial:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

For some reason, I often find the little cards and photos of loved ones that people put on these memorials to be more evocative than the Big Thing itself.  And given that others will of course also be photoing the big picture, I often find myself concentrating on these small things when I photo these things.  And on others taking photos of course, that being a constant preoccupation of mine.

You don’t have to agree with everything Bomber Command was commanded to do during WW2 to salute the bravery of those who did it.

I for one find that prominent Pericles reference to defending freedom (the one I made into an SQotD, and which you can see in the final picture above) slightly odd.  Bomber Command was an offensive weapon, as is made clear in the Churchill quote about how only the bombers could offer victory (see photo in line 3, far left).  And its purpose was not just to win the war (which despite Bomber Harris’s promises it only helped to do), but to punish the damned losers of it for having started it.  This was a punitive war, and everyone at the time knew it.  Oh sure, the story at the time in the newspapers was that it was all precision bombing of military targets, blah blah, but if any bombs just happened to land on civilians, the attitude of civilians on our side was: serve the bastards right.

You have to realise how most British people felt about the Germans during WW2, including most of the bomber airmen.  The Germans were the people who, having experienced World War 1 in all its horror, concluded from it that they needed to have a re-run of it, but this time win.  Starting WW1 was forgiveable, albeit a horrible blunder, and we still quarrel about who exactly did start it.  Starting WW2, on purpose, was unforgiveable.

Okay, maybe a lot of Germans were not in favour of all this.  But they went along with it, very happily.  Until it all started to go wrong.

WW1 ended with a negotiated German surrender.  This time around, our Anglo ancestors were determined that every last German left alive would not only lose, but know that Germany had lost.  Each German must taste defeat, and if they died while tasting it, that was just fine.  This time, the surrender would be unconditional.  No “stab in the back” crap.  Stabbed from the front, with overwhelming force, by an enraged world.

Never again.  You must never, never, do this again.  That was what Bomber Command was saying.

In a way, the bombing offensive was a continuation by other means of the silly pamphlet dropping over Germany which was what the bombers first did.  Sending a message, but this time in a form that would register.

You may not like any of this, but that is how it was.

Monday November 28 2011

This blogging stuff really works.  I blog here about Emmanuel Todd, and a blink of an eye (i.e. about a couple of years or more) later, these two American guys are writing a book about America, concerning which they say things like this:

America 3.0 gives readers the real historical foundations of our liberty, free enterprise, and family life.  Based on a new understanding our of our past, and on little known modern scholarship, America 3.0 offers long-term strategies to restore and strengthen American liberty, prosperity and security in the years ahead.

America 3.0 shows that our country was founded as a decentralized federation of communities, dominated by landowner-farmers, and based on a unique type of Anglo-American nuclear family.  . . .

The two American guys in question are Jim Bennett (of Anglosphere fame) and Michael Lotus, who are also Chicago BoyzOthers are talking about this also.

And that “little known modern scholarship” is, among other things, the work of Emmanuel Todd.  If you look at the (quite short) “Essential Readings” list to the right at America 3.0 you will see, among other links, these:

Emmanuel Todd (1)
Emmanuel Todd (2)
Emmanuel Todd (3)
Emmanuel Todd (4)

America 3.0 will be on my Essential Reading list just as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.

Monday June 13 2011

Lawas, Sarawak:

image

Next time anyone asks how clean my flat is, I will reply: “Fairly clean.” In fact, come to think of it, I already do.

About two hours LATER:

I could keep doing this for months.

When it comes to Michael Jennings telling me about something, this is the usual pattern, I find.  Not that he necessarily does, just that he could.

Labuan island, Malaysia:

image

I’m not bored yet.

These are coming to me as and when taken, right?  Not just from the archives?

Monday November 29 2010

Well, that was one weird weekend.

If you dislike blog postings which ramble on and off in all directions at excessive length, then you had perhaps better stop reading this one now, because as I start writing this, I have a lot of things in my head that I now want to ramble on about.

For starters, I’m back being ill.  A sort of permanent throat distortion, that makes coughing a constant thought.  It never accomplishes anything, but I keep wanting to do it.  More troublingly, I am starting to have mild stomach pains and headaches.  A combination of the flue bug that is doing the rounds, and mild hypochondria, probably.  (Although, a friend has now suggested that Lemsip might also be the culprit.)

Next up: my sleep patterns are shot to hell.  Despite not having left London for about a year, I am now jet-lagged.  The recent see-saw cricket match between England and Australia in Australia put the tin lid on that tin, but the tin was already there and filled with nocturnal wakefulness, put there by the extreme difficulty of getting to sleep when in bed, hugely exacerbated by that throat thing.  Sleeping in my armchair early in the evening, with the television as likely as not blaring away, easy.  Getting into bed, switching off the light, and then sleeping, not so easy.  Hence the temptation of not even trying to go to bed until I really am very, very tired, and confident of getting quickly to sleep once the light is switched off, in other words very, very late.  And once you do that a few times you’re stuck.

In the small and getting bigger small hours of Saturday morning, I decided to (a) attack the problem of non-productivity during the wide-awake dead-of-night and (b) thereby stay awake so long that I could solve the jet lag problem by adding another huge gob of it and cancelling it out, instead of vainly trying to subtract from it.  Sleep all day Saturday, starting as late as possible, and get to bed at a proper time Sunday evening.  That was the plan.

So, at about 5 am on Saturday morning, instead of going to bed, I wrote a (though I say it myself) ripsnorter of a posting for Samizdata called They are not liberals and they are not progressives, and then added what seemed to me to be a pertinent SQotD for good measure.  In an early comment on the liberals/progressives posting, I expressed the hope that I might get lucky with linkage in the USA.

Meanwhile England had been taken apart in the cricket.  This was the night (i.e. Australian day) when Hussey and Haddin were making their 300 stand.  The blogging was partly an attempt to take my mind off that horror.

Finally, at about 9 am, I went to bed, the video set to capture all the rugby during the day on the telly, ...

To be awakened at about 10 fucking am by fucking banging in one of the very nearby, probably right next door flats.  Someone was getting rid of a bookshelf or hacking away some plaster or some pipes or some damn thing. For two hours I lay awake, hoping it would stop.  I gave up and got up.  At which point, of fucking course, Sod’s Law cut in and it stopped and never resumed.  But I did not know about that, did I?  By the time I realised that the banging was over, I was wide awake again.  This is the absolute only time that there has been such banging in the morning in the last three months.  None before.  None since.  Bastards.  Total, total, bastards.  And yes, since you ask, I was very tempted to use full stops there.

Further albeit metaphorical hammering followed when England then got hammered at rugger by South Africa, despite having promised so much against Australia.  In retrospect, what the rugby pros always say about how if you play behind a winning scrum attacking with your backs becomes massively easier ... well, that’s true.  Australia have a weak pack.  Genius backs but a weak pack.  South Africa have a very strong pack, and very decent backs.  I videoed the highlights of this game but have yet to watch them.  So, England hammered at rugby and in the process of being hammered at cricket.  The only two sports I really care about.

But, while I was sleeping or perhaps while I was later lying awake in bed cursing the universe, Instapundit had linked to They are not liberals and they are not progressives, adding extra punch to the title by calling it They Are Not Liberals And They Are Not Progressives, quoting the key paragraph, and adding, getting the point totally: “So what do we call them?” I could tell that something like this had probably happened even before I looked at Instapundit, because in my email inbox was a flood of emails resulting from a flood of comments on the posting, including many from people with totally unfamiliar names, and almost all of them intelligent and getting the point of it all.  I had hoped that Instapundit would oblige, what with my point being about what American politico-obsessives of my persuasion call their local enemies (which is his kind of topic), if only with a one line posting, but of course you can never assume you’ll be Instalaunched.  A posting with the money quote quoted was ideal.  So, England are crap at rugger and cricket.  These are mere games.  This is the future of mankind, and my contribution to that future.  My opinions are now echoing around the USA, and I haven’t even been there!

Some time Real Soon Now, I want to do another Samizdata posting about Instapundit and the difference he has made to life, the universe and everything, both a personal thank you and a thank you on behalf of the universe.  People often do thank him, as here, for noticing this posting or (as here) a previous posting.  People often digress about what a fine fellow he is, before getting stuck into some particular thing he likes to say, and how very true that is of how things are here in London or Toronto or Phoenix or Timbuktu or wherever.  Not so often does anyone focus directly on the man himself and the man’s considerable achievement, with that being the point of the piece.  But, has anyone - anyone - had more impact on the current political landscape of the USA, and hence the entire world, than Glenn Instapundit Reynolds?  Name someone else.  Seriously, think about that.  And if you have any thoughts about this (I think) fascinating individual, please write them down as comments here.  This even (in fact especially) applies if you do not share my very high opinion of Instapundit.  Boring plonker, is he?  Tell me why.  You won’t convince me, but your inability to understand this person will flesh out my understanding of him, just a little.  Because he is a bit boring, but only in the same kind of way that a quite complex machine, that is fantastically productive and which never, ever breaks down, is also boring.

A good global financial system would be boring too.  But also, like Instapundit, it would be a very good thing.

Okay so on Saturday night and then Sunday morning, and having had pretty much no sleep the “night” before, I had a chance to clobber that jet lag by going to bed at a proper time.  And I did, but then I wake up far too early, to have a piss basically, and I clock into Cricinfo just to get the bad news that will confirm how totally cricket is only a game, and England are ... 238 for 1 at tea on the fourth day.  238 for 1.  Nearly level.  This is too good to ignore.  Cricket, after all, is an important matter.  More than just a mere sport.  It’s central to the way of life of two great nations at opposite ends of the earth, Britain and Australia, especially Australia.  By the time England (as Britain’s cricket team is known (it has twice been captained by Scotsmen (most notably Douglas Jardine))) had reached 309 for 1 - 309 for 1 - at the close of play, I was wide awake again, and jet lag remained horribly undefeated.

And the next night was just as bad.  When once again I should have been attempting an early night and many hours of slumber, England proceeded until near to tea time, reaching an unprecedented score of 517 for 1 wicket, which rather put Australia’s second innings of 481 (for 10 wickets) in its place, didn’t it?  Would there then be a clatter of Australian wickets, perhaps even a sensational England win?  Well, as it turned out, not. But how was I supposed to know that beforehand?

It is now Monday evening, and tomorrow I face the self-imposed obligation to be at the British Library at 1pm, to attend a lecture by Alex Ross, which will no doubt plunge my throat into a state of even worse ... worseness.  Also, no chance of spending tomorrow in bed either.  Also, I will have to venture out for food.

At least tonight there will be no cricket in Australia to postpone sleep.  On Thursday night, it starts again, but tonight, and tomorrow night and the night after, there will only be darkness.

Thursday November 25 2010

And it begins:

image

England’s captain out for a duck, off the third ball of the game.

Tuesday October 26 2010

Just listened to an interview on Radio 3 with the author of The Last Lingua Franca.  Publisher spiel:

In this provocative and persuasive new book, Nicholas Ostler challenges our assumption that English will continue to dominate as the global lingua franca. Drawing on his encyclopaedic knowledge of world languages and their history, Ostler reveals that just as past great languages like Latin and Sanskrit have died out, so English will follow.

Sounds interesting.  Not because he is necessarily completely right, but because he sounds like he knows a lot about the rise and fall of languages generally.

This posting is just me reminding myself about this book, so that I buy it in paperback.  Which it definitely will be because it’s a Penguin.

Friday October 01 2010

A characteristic blog posting, this being such, is when the blogger links to something which, in passing, agrees with Something I’ve Always Said.  And Something I’ve Always Said is that the question What If? - as in what if something different had happened in the past to what did happen? - can often illuminate what did happen.

So, good to see James C. Bennett (who was in London last week) saying this, on page 3 of this:

Had Truman or Lyndon Johnson been able to push through a similar British- or Canadian-style agenda in their times, the new institutions and arrangements would have immediately appealed to a substantial bloc of the electorate, particularly unionized employees of large corporations, who would have constituted a substantial lobby for the entrenchment, protection, and expansion of those institutions and benefits. By 2009, this bloc was substantially smaller and weaker, and it has had to expend substantial amounts of its political capital merely to stay alive. The entrepreneurial companies, the self-employed, and small businesses that do not benefit from, but rather are penalized by, this agenda are conversely stronger.

One way to think about the U-turn is to look at an alternative history that was proposed and advocated, but never came to pass. ...

The What If? in question being a ...:

… globe-spanning Imperial Federation under the Crown, uniting Britain and all of its colonies of settlement into a global federal state, governed by a single Imperial Parliament, and able to operate on the same scale as the U.S., Germany, and Russia.

Which comes on page 4 of the piece.

A descendant version, so to speak, of this might yet happen, of course, although surely not dominated by any purely British institution.  Something like it may simply ... happen.  As in happen without “politics”, without having to be argued for by public arguers.  History never ends.

Wednesday January 06 2010

This evening I am giving the first 6/20 talk of the year at Christian Michel’s home, about ... cricket!  I have spent great chunks of the last few days, and all of today so far, fretting about this talk, in particular about how to impose a coherent structure on it all, but I think I’ve now cracked it.  I will start my talk not fifty or sixty years ago but right now, with two fascinating test matches, one still in progress involving England, and another just concluded which did not involve England, that non-involvement being at least half of my point.  Despite being neither an Australian or in Australia, nor a Pakistani or in Pakistan, I was, thanks to the internet, able to follow that game ball by ball, and could have followed all of it if I hadn’t wanted any sleep at night-time for the duration.

From the various emails I sent him about this talk, Christian cobbled together this spiel to send out to his potential congregation, which says what I have in mind to talk about:

Brian’s talk will be about cricket. But, hey, don’t stop reading if you are like me continentally utterly indifferent to that drawn-out ritual of white-robed males adopting in turn indecent postures. I have reassuring news. Brian won’t talk only about cricket. He has been a fan of the game since he was shorter than a wicket. His devotion is at a distance nowadays, through television and the internet, and through these tiny windows he will explore with us the changes in the world over the noughties. Yes, the rise of “Twenty20” cricket; the emergence of India, with more fans of the game than there are people in Europe; the power shift from the old white Commonwealth to the Asian subcontinent – but not only. Cricket will take us through the changing texture of everyday life caused by the IT revolution, the faces of nationalism, the decline of big media, and many other issues besides. ‘Just change “cricket” to whatever you are a fan of’, Brian tells me, ‘and see if what I say about my passion applies to your enthusiasm’

Wow.  That sounds like a lot.  Wish me luck.