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A talk by Richard Carey and a present for Patrick Crozier

Next time I meet up with Patrick Crozier, I will be giving him a present.

I hope that the next time we meet will be if he drops by at my place tomorrow evening. Then, Richard Carey will be giving a talk about “The English Radicals: 1640-1660”, but I believe that work commitments may prevent Patrick from being at that.

Richard Carey will be talking about:

The use and abuse of history; the period 1640-1660 as a crucible of political philosophy; Libertarianism and Republicanism and their respective myths; Those great heroes to all honest Englishmen, the libellously-labelled “Levellers”, what they stood for, their impact and influence on the development of politics in this country and America, likewise the Republicans.

As always with these talks, I expect to learn a lot. To find out more about them, click where it says “Contact” here.

The present for Patrick Crozier is this:


That’s twenty one ancient copies of The Times. I saw a great stash of these in a local charity shop, and, knowing Patrick’s interest in the past of this newspaper, especially when world wars are involved, I purchased one, dated May 24th 1940. I asked Patrick if he’d like this copy, and more. He expressed enthusiasm. So, yesterday I went back and bought all the rest. Originally these copies were sold for 2d. These same copies each cost me exactly as much as a copy of The Times would now cost, £1. Someone else had also had a go at the pile by then, but there were plenty left. The dates of the copies I now have are: 1939 – October 2; November 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29; December 5, 13, 15, 19, 27; 1940 – March 27, 28; April 4, 6, 13, 17; May 24, 30.

Giving gifts to one’s friends these days is hard. Stuff worth having tends not to cost nearly as much as it used to. If a friend wants, say, some spoons, he just buys some spoons, of exactly the sort he wants. Why give him other spoons of the wrong sort? Besides which, the gift most of us would really like would not be more crap, but more space to accommodate all the crap we already have. So, when the chance occurs to give a friend a gift that they really might like, costing about the right amount in money or bother, it makes sense to grab that chance.

LATER: I’ve just discovered that what I thought was December 27th 1939 was actually September 27th 1938. Before WW2 began, in other words, which will please Patrick. There’s a big Hitler speech about Czechoslovakia.

16 comments to A talk by Richard Carey and a present for Patrick Crozier

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    the gift most of us would really like would not be more crap, but more space to accommodate all the crap we already have


    …oops, forgot one there…


    Kindles help, a bit. But what we really need is cupboards that fold up into another dimension so you can carry them about in your back pocket. Garages and parking spaces that fold up into another dimension would also be good.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Oh golly! Thank you very much.

  • AndrewWS

    ” Besides which, the gift most of us would really like would not be more crap, but more space to accommodate all the crap we already have.”

    As one whose life is an endless round of getting rid of ‘crap’ I say a loud AMEN!

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Ursula Le Guin wrote a science fiction novel about a planet colonised by left-wing anarchists called “The Dispossessed”. (The settlers were not earth-humans so they didn’t call themselves left-wing, but the author does and she obviously intended to depict it as a good though not perfect society.) On this planet, anyone could go and collect any goods they liked from a store. Social pressure stopped them amassing more than their share. Part of this social pressure was to call any manufactured goods surplus to the necessities of life “excremental.”

    I don’t really think such an arrangement would work above a very small scale.

    But sometimes – particularly when faced with tidying up – I see her point.

    By the way “the period 1640-1660 as a crucible of political philosophy” sounds a very interesting subject for a talk. I’m unlikely to be able to be there but I hope it goes well. We in Britain were quite lucky in that the see-saw between Charles I, the Interregnum, and Charles II ended up in a pretty reasonable balance, more by luck than judgement.

  • Paul Marks

    Le Guin offers a false choice.

    The goody planet – where the collective owns everything (although they rename the state “the people” as anarchocommunalists tend to do.

    And the baddy planet – a sort of United States under the leftist view of Richard Nixon.

    A pathetic book really – apart from the word “propertarian” (the evil people on the baddy planet), like some other people I have used this word “propertarian”.

    So many thanks Ursula Le Guin.

    As for Hitler and 1938.

    The tanks broke down on the road to Prague – he really needed those arms factories.

    If Neville C. had not given way at Munich the German military would have overthrown Hitler – IF Hitler had been mad enough to go to way BEFORE the Czechs were forced to give up all their defences.

  • Paul Marks

    On the Americans – most of the Founders cited Montesquieu more that Overton and Colonel L.

    Actually I think they should have listened to Overton and Colonel L. more – I think the Founders made the Executive too strong.

    And that is not just a matter of the experience of Obama – I think there is evidence to show the Executive was too strong even under President Washington (Whiskey “rebellion” – turning a riot in an excuse to raise a conscript army and invade Pennsylvania without any request for aid from the State government, and then the invasion of Indian lands in Ohio….. although the Indians were hardly saints and had been raiding).

    Still the Founders were concerned with the survival of the American Republic in a violent world – not just the danger of the expansion of government.

    They might have been horrified to hear it, but the person that Washington, Andrew Jackson (and so many of the other leading statesmen) remind me of is Oliver Cromwell.

    Not a monster (far from it) – but a very hard man.

    The big difference is the stepping down after eight years – a custom (there was no rule mandating it) that every President (before the mild mannered megalomaniac Franklin Roosevelt) obeyed. George Washington’s answer to those who called him a dictator – how can I be a dictator, I have just retired.

    Still both Sulla and Diocletian retired.

  • bloke in spain

    On the subject of old publications, anyone interested in an almost complete set of War Illustrated (2nd)? (Say “almost” because the first issue’s sometime in ’40 but maybe they didn’t start it before, not thinking they’d have much of a war to illustrate.) All printed on that dual use wartime paper (soft & absorbent) but professionally bound in volumes. Fascinating read because it’s written in almost real time rather than with hindsight. Watch Hitler’s evil accomplice become Good Old Uncle Joe before your very eyes. Not as ‘istorical a document as the Thunderer, but then Mum & Dad weren’t reading that down the shelter, were they?
    Currently the whole lot’s lurking in the UK but I can’t see much chance of it traveling any nearer me. Too much hustle. I’ll be in country for a week or so, early October. (Unless I panic & hit the Dover ferry. UK tends to have that effect. Looks so much better from Gravelines beach) Can’t stick it on Ebay. Apart from anything else, Paypal doesn’t seem to be able to cope with people whose bank accounts aren’t in the country they live in. So if anyone wants to rescue it from a likely fate in the recycling, get in touch. Could drop it in London, Liverpool (don’t ask) or it’s currently in Sussex.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    bloke in spain,

    If it weren’t the case that (as I have already lamented) we are overwhelmed with stuff, much of which is books, I would be interested in your set of War Illustrated. I will flag it up to my husband with only mild threats of bodily harm if he actually takes you up on it. How much shelf space do they take up? UPDATE – he just came in, looked over my shoulder, and declined.

    On eBay, given that you are not seeking a profit could you not persuade a friend to put them on eBay for 1p? It does seems sad for them to go in the bin.

  • Paul Marks,

    Le Guin offers a false choice.

    The goody planet – where the collective owns everything (although they rename the state “the people” as anarchocommunalists tend to do.

    And the baddy planet – a sort of United States under the leftist view of Richard Nixon.

    False choice in another way, too. At the time I read the book I was a democratic soft socialist. I remember being disappointed that Le Guin had made the USA-counterpart country (there was a USSR-counterpart and various other countries mentioned as well) so much worse than the USA. For instance women not being allowed to go to university, and of course the big massacre of strikers in their thousands by the government near the end. “Well of course anarchism is better than that,” I thought. “What would have been interesting was to have made a realistically depicted anarchist society look better than a broadly capitalist democracy as nice as Sweden, or even the real USA, which for all its faults does not mow down unarmed people en masse. My opinions on the relative virtues of Sweden compared to the USA have changed emphasis since then, but the point stands. Le Guin is a good writer. The USA-counterpart was not crudely done; it’s just that she could have imagined with equal subtlety a country that gave the Anarresti society a run for its money. OK, it didn’t have money, but you know what I mean.

  • bloke in spain

    From hazy memory, about 12 inches run & magazine format. Friends in the UK? I try not to. The smell of burnt bridges has long faded.

    As a SF buff, were you aware Walter M Miller wrote a sequel, well midquel, to Canticle For Leibowitz? Surprised me, when I stumbled across it. Published by his estate in ’97. Worth the shelf space.

  • Re-reading myself, I don’t see why I said “False choice in another way, too.” I was saying it was a false choice in exactly the same way as you were. For a moment my mind had been tickled by a secondary point, but I’ve forgotten what it was.

  • Bloke in Spain,

    No, I didn’t know that, though I’ve read and admired some of Walter M Miller’s stuff. But – and I know this is pathetic – and could the general reader please note it is also a SPOILER COMING UP – I don’t like reading about worlds where I know it’s all going to end up being nuked in the end. Multiple cycles of nuking, if I remember correctly.

  • Still both Sulla and Diocletian retired.

    But the model cited at the time was Cincinnatus.

  • bloke in spain

    It’s certainly another large helping of distopia, Natalie. But increasingly, I find myself looking more for the way a novel’s written rather than the subject matter. And certainly wish some of the more acclaimed novelists had a clue how to string words together.
    Incidentally, re Le Guin & indeed Miller, she’s another reason why I balk at the phrase “science fiction” & prefer SF to read “speculative fiction”. Science fiction is best reserved for novels where the science is fictional. (See Iain Banks)

  • thefrollickingmole

    I just finished reading “failure of a mission” written by the chap who was the top diplomat in Germany from the UK and his attempts to prevent war.

    Its surprising the things you can learn from old books..

    Goering was widely respected, and a charmer who probably least wanted a war out of Hitlers inner circle.
    Ribbentrop was just a shit.
    After the taking of the Sudetenland the Generals were neutered to a massive degree, as was any voices urging caution.

    He also seems to have had the impression Germans were serious in their concerns about being “encircled” by hostile states, which goes some way to explaining how it was possible to sign a treaty with Stalin.. It was a coup in a political sense.

    Great book http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Of-Mission-Berlin-1937-1939/dp/1104840081