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The big questions September 22, 2005

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Cor blimey! This week’s Spectator is asking/answering all the big questions. They’re majorly concentrating on race and culture this issue, but gayness is in there too, with the wise words of Petronella Wyatt. (Oh well, makes a change from her writing about e-bay and her press-up routine. I’m not sure I agree with her September-11th-having-made-woofters-manly theory, by the way. I think it’s more likely to have been an AIDS-related thing.) Anyway, they seem to have decided to have covered the lot this week. There’s Israel, the Raj, torture and Joan Collins too. Quite a read. (Not as much of it’s online as used to be the case, but it’s still a corkingly good free read.)

Another little joy from this week’s edition is that in Aidan Hartley’s section, there is mention of McCluskieganj, which deserves to be famous for its name alone. It was founded as an Anglo-Indian ‘colony’ when that community began to fear what would happen to it as independence for India drew near. I saw a documentary about the place, or one that at least touched on it, years ago and it immediately evoked a romantic tingle in me. This edition of the Speccie is, of course, largely lambasting multiculturalism and Aidan Hartley bemoans the way, in his view, India has turned into a khazi since independence, but I love these multikulti oddities scattered around the world’s globe. I am not nearly as well travelled as I would like to be, so am yet to see many of the places where the history has created a good old mix. One of the more accessible ones, practically and mentally, for Englanders like me, is Gibraltar. Anyone who’s been has assured me the mix is fascinating. There’s the obvious Britishness, and then there’s Spanishness galore, natch, but the name is Arabic and there’s a big Jewish population. And they seem to bumble along quite nicely, give or take the odd border spat and tourists having their bananas nicked off them by the barbary apes…

In any case, maybe Calcutta (which Hartley describes) is just a particular khazi. I have had much fun listening to Englanders’ stories from trips to Bombay and the environs… English friend asks on street where such-and-such a street is. Indian asks in posh English if he can have a look at the map. ‘Ah, you mean such-and-such (switch back to colonial name) a street…’ And, as same friend was taken out into the countryside from Bombay and was greeted with vistas of waterfalls and general perfection, he is told, having commented upon said beauty, ‘Ah yes, but nothing can rival your England. You have your lovely hedges, and your neat lawns.’ And this with mountains and waterfalls and elephants loping past the windscreen.

All good fun, in my view…



1. Mark Holland - September 23, 2005

That’s a super lot to comment on.

Just quickly, in Naill Ferguson’s ‘Empire’ he mentions a bit of 18th or 19th century gun boat dimplomacy where a Gibraltarian Jew was not being treated in the manner becoming a citizen of the British Empire while he was in Greece. I’m rather proud that the government of the day was prepared to do some sabre rattling to protect his rights.

Also, in Fiji we were in a remote villager’s hut made from branches and leaves – to complicated to explain how and why save for saying that my wife’s uncle is such a nice guy that everyone takes to him – and on the wall as a framed picture was an image of the nightime New York skyline, twin towers and all cut from a magazine. I guess it’s just allure of something pretty and distant just as we have a painting of a Queensland beach above our fireplace.

2. BiB - October 15, 2006

Yes, horses for courses, I suppose.

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