Sunday, 24 November 2013

The joy of doing nothing

The joy of doing nothing, with a nice empty hotel in the mountains in which to do it. I learnt yesterday that Durkheim said personal time is essentially different from social time and not measured by hours or minutes.

Friday, 22 November 2013


"The experience of Joy for C.S. Lewis was the precursor to an intellectual and moral conversion which culminated in his acceptance first of theism, then full blooded Christianity. Almost from the moment of his conversion to Christianity, Lewis’ life exploded with creativity and prodigious accomplishment. His achievements would not have been possible without his experience of sehnsucht—that intense nostalgia for something lost which had to be found. This sense that fulfillment comes from the recovery or remembrance of things past is at the heart of conservatism, and echoes the wisdom of Plato who taught that all learning was a matter of remembering what we once knew."

Read more here.

This makes me realise how I am not yet converted.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

'Britain and the Beast'

" I am not making a plea for the retention of those repellent, jerry-built, sham-Tudor houses that so disfigure England ; but I do suggest that the reason why people are happy in them, why they take pride in them, is worth studying.

You can't impose theories of living on the English. You may want to if you belong to political parties, either right or left, that have no tenderness for liberty ; you may want to if you are an enthusiastic young architect with views about the ' ideal home' ; but in England you cannot design anything for an ideal society ; you cannot presuppose an inclination on the part of the public to acclaim logic and convenience ; you cannot, even by implication, order the English about, and insist that life has got to be lived in such and such a way ."

- John Gloag (contributor ) - 'Britain and the Beast' (p.199) - Published, 1938

Acknowledgments to Julian Craig for bringing this to my attention.

We are not the men our fathers were

Oh no! David Cameron referred to the Rev. Paul Flowers in the House as the 'the Rev. Flowers'.

I already suspected that most of my generation and the next were uneducated vulgarians but he is the nephew of a baronet. He went to Eton and took a First at Oxford.

Experts are concerned that children's fitness levels are declining

"Experts are concerned that children's fitness levels are declining as a study finds many cannot run as fast as their parents did."

This BBC headline demonstrates the two big problems we face in the rich world. There are far, far too many experts and they are far too concerned about how other people live.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

In defence of the rich

An excellent Boris defence of the rich. "The top one per cent of earners now pay 29.8 per cent of all the income tax and National Insurance received by the Treasury." 

The Silence of Colonel Bramble

I was a very bookish child and my parents worried that I would live life at second-hand. I wonder if I did. Anyhow, when I was fourteen one of my favourite books was The Silence of Colonel Bramble, a very funny and charming book, or so I thought when I was 14. It is one of only two or three books that I tried to read in French. Now when I mention André Maurois people correct me and say you mean Andre Malraux. 

I have just found it on the net and recommend it to you. Dipping into it, its charm has not diminished for me.

' We are a curious nation," said Major Parker. ' To interest a Frenchman in a boxing match you must tell him that his national honour is at stake. To interest an English- man in a war you need only suggest that it is a kind of a boxing match. Tell us that the Hun is a barbarian, we agree politely, but tell us that he is a bad sportsman and you rouse the British Empire." 
" It is the Hun's fault," said the colonel sadly, " that war is no longer a gentleman's game." 
" We never imagined," continued the major, " that such cads existed. Bombing open towns is nearly as unpardonable as fishing for trout with a worm, or shooting a fox." 
"You must not exaggerate, Parker," said the colonel calmly. * They are not as bad as that yet." 
 " But don't you find yourself, Aurelle," went on Major Parker, " that intelligence is over-estimated with you? It is certainly more useful to know how to box than how to write. You would like Eton to go in for noth- ing but learning? It is just like asking a trainer of racehorses to be interested in circus horses. We don't go to school to learn, but to be soaked in the prejudices of our class, without which we should be useless and unhappy. We are like the young Persians Herodotus talks about, who up to the age of twenty only learnt three sciences: to ride, to shoot and to tell the truth."  

"That may be' said Aurelle, "but just see, major, how inconsistent you are. You despise learning and you quote Herodotus. Better still, I caught you the other day in the act of reading a translation of Xenophon in your dug-out. "

A wonderful funny and inspiring book and a handbook for how England should be.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Me nationalism

I met a very nice Hungarian in Mercurea Ciuc who told me his two names were both Hungarian warrior names (one was Levente, the other I forget). I asked him if he were therefore a Hungarian nationalist and he said, 'No. I am a me nationalist, a me and the

The Bucharest I love

Bucharest used to be mostly shops like this fifteen years ago. I have watched the advance of progress here with dismay. Acknowledgements to Bucurest Saizecist and Bucuresti Realist, whose wonderful page I recommend.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Pasajul Englez

Oddly, a couple of hours after seeing this picture on the Bucharest Realist Facebook page and hearing of Pasajul Englez, I accidentally found and walked down Pasajul Englez  - for

Thursday, 14 November 2013


"I've come here more times as prime minister than I've been anywhere other than Belgium." 
- David Cameron , New Delhi , November, 2013 ...

" ... if India should go ... England, from having been the arbiter, would sink into the inglorious playground of the world. Wondering pilgrims would come to see us just as they climb the Acropolis or inspect the Nile... A congested population would lead a sordid existence with no outlet for its overflow, no markets for its manufactures ... swallowed up in a whirlpool of American cosmopolitanism ... our aspirations defined only by a narrow and selfish materialism ... England would become a sort of glorified Belgium."

- Lord Curzon , Birmingham, December, 1907 ...

"In the seventies we tried being Belgium and we didn't like it."

Julie Burchill, sometime in the 1980s

(Acknowledgments to Julian Craig for bringing the first two quotations to my attention.)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What the Left-wing human rights industry won't tell you about the Roma

My old friend, Tom Gallagher, has started blogging for the Daily Telegraph. He blogs here about Romanian gypsies. I had hoped to become a Telegraph blogger but well done, Tom.

The rather populist headline reminds me that human rights are not at all the innocent or admirable thing they sound - they are mostly about entitlements not rights - and ways of restricting freedoms and democracy. Which brings to mind this conversation.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Romania: living here and writing about it

The heart is the undiscovered country. You travel to a foreign country to discover your unconscious mind.

Laurence Durrell said you have two birthplaces. The place where you are born and the

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Octav Dragan's Bucharest

Octav Dragan has give me permission to reproduce some of his wonderful pictures of Bucharest. His pictures can be found here.

This extraordinarily good picture of Cismigiu at night reminds me of the book illustrations of Jan Pieńkowski.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Today is St Michael and St Gabriel's Day in the Orthodox calendar

Image result for sf mihail gavril

King Michael celebrates his saint's day today. O good old man, how well in thee appears the constant service of the antique world. La mulţi ani, Majestate!

Some poet (a modern, was it Robert Graves?) wrote something about deposed kings with faces seen on much used coins, almost rubbed out, or something.

Today, along with their King, Romanians celebrate angels. Many happy returns of SS Michael and Gabriel's Day to your Majesty and all Mihaelas, Mihailas, Mihais, Gabriels and Gabrielas.

Like last year I have been too lazy to write anything but for details of Romanian traditions about this day click here. The Mihais, Mihailas and Gabis I spoke to had not heard of any of these traditions. But it is a joy to live in a country where saints' days are universally celebrated, even by atheists. Romania is in so many ways more civilised than England.

Archangels and angels are not given very much attention these days by the devout in post-Protestant countries like England or America (one exception is this book by Dr. Martin Israel), but in late antiquity they were very much venerated and still are by Romanians, who understand that religion is about the supernatural.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A mystic solidarity with the land of one’s birth

I just found this quotation from Mircea Eliade. This is probably from his semi-fascist early phase but still it is good.

“Until recently there persisted among Europeans the obscure awareness of a mystic solidarity with the land of one’s birth. It was not a commonplace love of

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Sweden and the decline of the West

On October 1, four candidates to be Archbishop of Uppsala, the highest position in the (Lutheran) Church of Sweden, were interviewed by church officials in front of the media and, among other questions, were asked, “Does Jesus provide a truer picture of God than Muhammad?” Only one of the candidates said that He does. (This candidate came second.)
The woman who got the job, Antje Jackelén, answered:
“One cannot reduce the whole of religious theology, that is to say the question of how different religions relate to one another, to a yes-and-no question. It
amounts to doing violence to a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be found there.”
I would have thought the question could easily have been answered skirting the subject of Muhammad altogether and talking about the divinity of Jesus. Even Hans Kung would agree that Jesus is essential to salvation.

The Archbishop-elect of Uppsala is not to be confused with the Bishop of Stockholm, who is a lesbian, lives with her woman priest partner and is the world's first openly active
homosexual bishop. I am not making this up.

As it happens, I saw my first ever woman priest in 2007 in Stockholm Cathedral. It was a surprise to see a woman priest but I was astonished to see that she was an absolutely beautiful blonde. I hadn't expected that. This seems to me an additional reason to think women cannot be clergy. However, women have been ordained in the Swedish state church for fifty years.

Despite its strongly feminist public culture, Sweden, once a very law-abiding country, has the worst rape figures in Europe. Many rapes are committed by immigrants. The conservative Norwegian blogger Fjordman wrote this very interesting essay, which deserves reading, on the subject of Swedish attitudes to what I call sex but is now called gender.

A day after writing this comes fresh news from Sweden: they are going to introduce ratings to warn about sexism in films.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

King George VI

One of those two wonderful diarists, Sir Harold Nicolson or Sir Henry Channon, said that HM King George VI looked like a Russian icon. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor called the Queen Cookie because she looked like a cook. 

One sees why here. This picture is from the State Opening of Parliament in 1948. They had ceased to be Emperor and Empress of India the year before. When Andrew Roberts asked the Queen Mother what is was like to be Empress of India she replied, 'Very nice'.

The future King George VI on the helter-skelter at the Wembley Exhibition, London 1925
1925 Wembley Exhibition. Imagine Musso, Stalin, or Hitler on a helter-skelter. You can't. FDR maybe.
I think King George VI was so unintelligent as to be not quite but almost mentally retarded, but the majority of his subjects were not clever either. He is one of the few monarchs to have made the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, for telling W.H. Auden 'Abroad is bloody.' Like George III he gloried in the name of Briton. 

He was a good man, not a bully like his father or a cad like his elder brother. When he ascended the throne he reigned over the most powerful and most civilised country in the world. It was left to our present Queen, his daughter, to preside over what we have now.

He was informed of our present Queen's birth while playing golf. A servant brought him a telegram with the news. He read it and then continued his game. I am old enough for this to seem understandable to me because I remember a time before mobile telephones and before fathers attended births.  I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled....

He won admiration for staying in London during the blitz, though A.J.P. Taylor said that while other Londoners stayed there because they had work to do the King and Queen stayed there to be bombed. He had a ration-book like his subjects and at Buckingham Place he ate spam on golden plates. 

He stammered very badly and was very shy. Waugh said his wartime broadcasts to his subjects did not inspire them so much as fill them with fear that he would be unable to finish his sentence. According to Andrew Roberts' very funny essay on him in Eminent Churchillians, he once reviewed a battalion of WRACS who had just landed in Sicily, asking the first: 'When did you arrive in Sicily?' and receiving the reply: 'This afternoon, sir'. He then repeated exactly the same question with the remaining WRACs, receiving the same reply each time.

He was very right-wing, but not a fascist like his brother, King Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor. Sir Oswald Mosley's wife, Lady Diana Mosley, said of the latter, 'Of course, he was much more right-wing than my husband '. 

George VI greatly admired Neville Chamberlain and wanted Lord Halifax, not Churchill, to succeed Chamberlain as Prime Minister. The King thought the National Health Service a bad idea. 'You might as well give people free shoes...' 

He smoked sixty Capstan unfiltered a day and died of lung cancer at the age of 56.

The Queen and Queen Mother never forgave Edward VIII for abdicating. They blamed him for George VI's early death. 

King George VI opening the Festival of Britain in 1951 in the South Bank. The royal family laughed at Mrs. Thatcher's deep curtsies but Churchill's bow seems much deeper than the nod people usually make to the Sovereign nowadays.

Was Winston Churchill a great man?

The short answer is yes, of course. The quotations and the books show a man comparable to the Pitts, Fox, Disraeli or Dr. Johnson. He was a very great war leader who led the UK to victory, but was it a Pyrrhic victory? What if anything was his lasting achievement?

On his last birthday, Churchill said to his daughters:

I have achieved much to have achieved nothing at all.

The Wrong Box

Which is the funniest book of all time in your opinion? 

It might be Decline and Fall, Scoop or A Handful of Dust but it might be this unjustly obscure (and oddly modern) masterpiece by Robert Louis Stevenson and his stepson.