Category Archives: Rudyard Kipling

It all comes back to me

Monday morning, 7 a.m. (+90 seconds): doorbell chimes, kitchen units and electricals delivered. Had been promised for delivery at 7 a.m. German inefficiency?

In preparation

Spent much of Sunday emulsioning the ceiling and the walls for the fitters to arrive today. Ten litres of brilliant white applied with long-handled roller.

Wrists ache.

Kipling_timecover1101260927_400“I don’t know. I’ve never Kipled.”

— the officially-approved punchline to #492 in the Old Farts’ Bad Joke Listing.

In point-of-fact I do like Kipling. Long-handled roller in hand and nine-foot ceiling above, the brain went into Kiple-mode.

For those strict four-emphases to the line seem to match the to-and-fro rhythm of the rolling very nicely:

When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.


Sixteen strokes: time to reload the roller.

No link, obviously, between that memory and the Lady in My Life, denied her kitchen, but doing her best with a single electric ring and a slow-cooker.

Now convince me having verse by heart is a pointless exercise.


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Filed under Literature, Quotations, Rudyard Kipling, schools

Quentin, Rudyard, Hobden and Peter

This brings together too much of my personal history and interests for comfort. I remember Peter Bellamy from the days when he was a year behind at Fakenham Grammar School, when we shared the experience of playing jazz records in the coal-hole at Walsingham, when it rained so hard the excavations at Walsingham Abbey were suspended.

Let’s proceed, quickly, to an apology to all sensitive souls. For the second day in succession, I have to refer you to Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail. I know. I know. Take a deep breath, or even something stronger. The shock will pass, I promise. His “parliamentary sketch” (none-too-lightly skating over that Cameron took a pasting at PMQs, not least from his own Ministers, who feel dumped upon) ended thus:

Finally, thanks to reader Mrs Morris of Clifton, Bristol, who sent me a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s poem ‘The Land’.

 It states eloquently that people who live on the land are far more likely than distant grandees to be sensible about dredging. 

Kipling should be required reading for those Islingtonian bird-fanciers at the Environment Agency.

Let’s not fret too much about yet another Lettsian gross misrepresentation: we can rely on more coming along shortly.


Bateman'sLet us, however, note that just none of Kipling’s fourteen stanzas relate to “dredging”.

The “brook”, we may presume is the River Dudwell, which runs just south of Bateman’s, Kipling’s house at Burwash. After Julius Fabricius (who put in the Roman drains) and Ogier the Dane (who limed the water-meadow, to make it less acidic), we have now reached William of Warenne and the third ownership of The Land:

But the Brook (you know her habit) rose one rainy autumn night 
And tore down sodden flitches of the bank to left and right.
So, said William to his Bailiff as they rode their dripping rounds:
“Hob, what about that River-bit—the Brook’s got up no bounds ?” 

And that aged Hobden answered: “‘Tain’t my business to advise,
But ye might ha’ known ‘twould happen from the way the valley lies.
Where ye can’t hold back the water you must try and save the sile.
Hev it jest as you’ve a mind to, but, if I was you, I’d spile!” 

They spiled along the water-course with trunks of willow-trees,
And planks of elms behind ’em and immortal oaken knees.
And when the spates of Autumn whirl the gravel-beds away
You can see their faithful fragments, iron-hard in iron clay.

Spile in its oldest sense is pre-English: originally, the German spiel — sport, play, used both as noun and verb. Then, early in the Sixteenth Century, we have the bishop and maker, Gavin Douglas doing his Lallands rendering of the Aeneid IX, uses spilis:

On thair awin wapynuis stikkand he and he.
Sum stekyt throu the cost with spilis of tre
Lay gaspand…

Which might be recognisable as:

Half-dead they fell to earth, the huge mass following,
pierced by their own weapons, and their chests impaled
on the harsh wood.

The OED reckons spilis is north. dial. and †Sc. A splinter, chip, or narrow strip, of wood; a spill. And the Ultimate Authority suggests an alternative etymology: Middle Dutch or Middle Low German spīle … splinter, wooden pin or peg, skewer, etc.

We are getting closer

Sure enough, appended to that we get a further iteration of spile. This was what was used in every good beer-cellar in the days of oaken barrels (and, if “Chiefly dial.”, certainly in use in north Norfolk half-a-century ago:

A small plug of wood for stopping the vent of a cask; a vent-peg; a spigot. Chiefly dial.

As for Kipling’s use, we have to go to the OED‘s third definition of the verb:

To furnish, secure, or strengthen with timber or iron piles; = pile v.1 2.

This comes with a single citation:

1829   J. T. Brockett Gloss. North Country Words (ed. 2) ,   Spile, to make a foundation in soft or boggy ground by driving in spiles; i.e. piles or pieces of timber.

Hold on! Kipling’s old Mus’ Hobden is broad Sussex, about as southern as one can get.

All of which is mere linguistic dredging.

A Malcolmian afterthought

I always found Kipling’s ballads, particularly The Land and The Way Through The Woods worked for me with lower secondary-school classes. That, of course, was in the bad old days when teachers had discretion in the materials presented to classes, before Secretaries of State for Education became all-powerful.

As a result, I had work-sheets on both (originally done for a spirit-duplicator, and then sophisticated by an Amstrad 8512, which puts us in the later 1980s). The spin-off for this Head of English was an instant filed resource when, at 8:50 a.m., the message came through from the School Office (she who must be obeyed!) that so-and-so teacher was sick, and work needed to be set.

There were two consequences of this, both versions of “Up yours!”:

  • First, anything which included the name of Kipling was anathema to the feminista brigade (who had never actually read any Kipling, but knew what they thought about such a rank old white male sexist, imperialist, racist, etc. This, of course, was worth a giggle in itself, for it never failed to épater la bourgeoise.
  • Second, much time passed. Many years after I had taken my early retirement, and was coining it, supplementing my pension, as a supply teacher in schools many boroughs distant from where we were in that previous bullet-point, I was handed work-sheets of a poem to present to an unknown class. A Xerox-copy from umpteen generations of photo-copies was thrust into my hand. Guess what? What goes around, comes around.

Smugly I was able to say I had an Ur-version on my 68040 Macintosh, which included the original (Tippexed by some earlier hand) subscribed copyright symbol.

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Filed under Daily Mail, education, Norfolk, Oxford English Dictionary, Rudyard Kipling, schools, Wells-next-the-Sea

What’s in a name?

… That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Juliet’s soliloquy, (II, ii, 44-45), of course and now so clichéed as to need an occasional reference for respectability.

And then there’s the vexed question of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland. In English, this is “Northern Ireland”  — though the most northernly part of Ireland is Malin Head, which is in Donegal — and so, in the parlance, paradoxically in the “South”. Nor, of course, is a Northern Irishman exclusively an “Ulsterman” — because Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan are in the ancient province of Ulaidh, but are not in Northern Ireland.

My passport’s green

MorrisonMotionEven among the northern (missing capital deliberately so — see more on this below) Irish there is no agreement on what one is: British? Irish? Northern Irish? Ulster Scots? When Penguin Books included Seamus Heaney with Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Medbh McGuckian and Paul Muldoon, in the The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry, he was the one who famously objected:

Don’t be surprised if I demur, for, be advised
My passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
To toast The Queen.

He made up for it, though, at Dublin Castle in May 2011.

The People with No Name

k7173That is the title of a fine book by Patrick Griffin, in Malcolm’s view the best account of the Ulster protestant diaspora who occupied and extended the Western frontier of the American colonies. It is subtitled: Ireland’s Ulster Scots, America’s Scots Irish, and the Creation of a British Atlantic World, 1689-1764.

The opening paragraph of that book illustrates the nominal confusions with a variety of names:

BETWEEN 1718 and 1775, more than 100,000 men and women journeyed from the Irish province of Ulster to the American colonies. Their migration represented the single largest movement of any group from the British Isles to British North America during the eighteenth century. In a first wave beginning in 1718 and cresting in 1729, these people outnumbered all others sailing across the Atlantic, with the notable exception of those bound to the New World in slave ships. By sheer force of numbers, this earliest generation of migrants had a profound influence on the great transformations of the age. Even before they left Ulster, they contributed to the triumph of the Protestant cause in Ireland, paving the way for an unprecedented extension of English power into the kingdom. They also figured prominently in the British transatlantic trading system by producing linen, one of the most important commodities exchanged throughout the empire. Sailing when they did, Ulster’s Presbyterian migrants played a formative role in the transition from an English to a British Atlantic. Before their migration, Puritans and adventurers leaving England during the seventeenth century for the North American mainland and the Caribbean dominated the transatlantic world. After men and women from Ulster boarded ships for America, the cultural parameters of the Atlantic broadened, as they and thousands of land-hungry voyagers from the labor-rich peripheries of the British Isles sought their fortunes in a vast, underpopulated New World. In America, Ulster’s men and women again had a hand in a number of defining developments of the period, including the displacement of the continent’s indigenous peoples, the extension of the frontier, the growth of ethnic diversity, and the outbreak of religious revivals. In the abstract, therefore, the group contributed to the forces and processes that dwarfed the individual but yoked together disparate regions into a broad Atlantic system.

The editor of Gaelscéal, Ciarán Dunbar, has picked up Griffin’s essential thesis, inverted it, and now puts up a ruminative thread on Slugger O’Toole:

Whilst working on Gaelscéal on Tuesday last I realized that I did not know the correct Irish term for ‘Northern Irish,’ so I quickly checked, the ‘National Terminology Database’ for Irish.

That was a fruitless journey for they had no such term, I requested they provide one.

The term was one I have strangely never needed in Irish and I have never thought about it to date.

On the day, we simply used the English term in single speech marks.

That night I heard two terms used on TG4, ‘Tuaisceart-Éireannaigh’, agus ‘Éireannaigh Thuaisceartacha’, both translating into English as  ‘Northern Irish’ but with a subtle difference in meaning in Irish which the English doesn’t capture.

One implies a mere geographical distinction, the other, perhaps, a clear political distinction.

A meaningless distinction for most but one could argue that constitutional  future of the Northern Ireland state rests on this distinction, whether the Northern Irish are ‘Tuaisceart-Éireannaigh’ or ‘Éireannaigh Thuaisceartacha’ at the end of the day.

Malcolm queries whether English cannot capture precisely the distinction between Tuaisceart-Éireannaigh, and Éireannaigh Thuaisceartacha by doing what he did above: capitalising or not the “n” of “northern”.


Beyond that, the thread provided Malcolm with a bit of further diversion, the Latin version of wikipedia. Yes, indeed: there is one — even if somewhat abbreviated for the present. And here is its definitive statement on the topic:

Hibernia Septentrionalis, quondam (H)ultonia (AngliceNorthern IrelandHiberniceTuaisceart Éireann) est provincia in Hibernia et Regno Britanniarum. Caput est Belfastium et dux gubernationis est Petrus Robinson; ille est dux factionis civilis qui appellatur Factio Unionistarum Democratica. Successit Reverendum Ioannem Paisley, qui abdicavit in Iunio 2008. Proconsul est Martinus McGuinness. Ille est membrum factionis civilis Sinn Fein (Latine: Nos Ipsi), olim dux Exercitus Republicani Hibernici.

Apart from stroking Malcolm’s self-esteem (that even after half-a-century, his TCD Latin, ever so rusty, can still cope), there were several amusements in that.

One was Máirtín Mag Aonghusa transmogrified from the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland into the far more concise, even poetic, ‘proconsul’. Which instantly directed Malcolm’s butterfly mind to Kipling:

Years betweenThe overfaithful sword returns the user
His heart’s desire at price of his heart’s blood.
The clamour of the arrogant accuser
Wastes that one hour we needed to make good
This was foretold of old at our outgoing;
This we accepted who have squandered, knowing,
The strength and glory of our reputations
At the day’s need, as it were dross, to guard
The tender and new-dedicate foundations
Against the sea we fear — not man’s award.

The subject there was originally Sir Alfred Milner, who was the British High Commissioner in South Africa during the Boer War. The “Oh, gosh!” thing is, stripping from one context to the other, the elevation of  Máirtín to ‘proconsul’ almost works.

“Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt”

Moving swiftly on, there is the conceit of Petrus Robinson, dux Factionis Unionistarum Democraticae (3rd declension, feminine: genitive case!). Thus rendering the DUP into Latin gives us the acronym FUD:

generally a strategic attempt to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information. An individual firm, for example, might use FUD to invite unfavorable opinions and speculation about a competitor’s product; to increase the general estimation of switching costs among current customers; or to maintain leverage over a current business partner who could potentially become a rival.

In the case of the DUP, precisely.

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Filed under DUP, Ireland, Literature, Northern Ireland, Northern Irish politics, Rudyard Kipling, Seamus Heaney, Slugger O'Toole, Trinity College Dublin, Troubles, United States

Fancy that!

Why is it that old newsprint, about to be discarded, makes one last burst at survival, and unfailingly provides unexpected diversion?

Here was Malcolm collecting paper around the house, recycling bin for the filling therewith.

Here comes the Times Literary Supplement of 31 August.

Tom Shippey reviewing Diana Wynne Jones, Reflections on the Magic of Writing.

Malcolmian Wombling stopped instantly. Reading mode was engaged.

The book is:

a collection of some thirty pieces written over the years by the late Diana Wynne Jones.

Shippey identifies:

The themes which run through the collection are autobiography, thoughts on how to write and how books originate … and thirdly, robust defences of the value of fantasy and the importance of writing for children.

Were Malcolm being sniffy (and he is), he would wonder why the third of those should ever need robust defences. Fantasy is an essential element in any proper upbringing:

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourishèd?
Reply, reply.
Is it engendered in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and Fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring Fancy’s bell:
I’ll begin it, — Ding, dong, bell.

Put that into its context, Act III, scene ii, of The Merchant of Venice, and you have something very spooky indeed. That, too, is part of fantasy.

Half-way through his review Shippey opens a Cabinet of Dr Caligari:

Wynne Jones adds herself to the list of children’s authors — E.E.Nesbit, Rudyard Kipling, Beatrix Potter — who had troubled early lives. She writes, “I think I write the kind of books I do because the world suddenly went mad when I was five years old”. Then, in August 1939, Diana and her sister were suddenly uprooted from London, driven to their grandparents’ home in Welsh-speaking Pontarddulais, and left to cope as best they could. It was not for long, for their mother came and fetched them back: not, it seems out of affection, but as a result of a blazing row with Aunt Muriel: “I see my relationship with my mother never recovered from this.” The children were soon packed off again, this time to Westmoreland, where they saw Arthur Ransome in a fury over the noise the children made — “He hated children” — and Diana’s sister Isobel was smacked by Beatrix Potter for swinging on her garden gate: “She hated children, too.”

Ah, sweet!

Quite how good this book is, Malcolm cannot authenticate. The reviewer seems to like it, and is convincing in his observations. It might be something worth seeking out. from a library, or watch for a second-hand copy perhaps: at £25 it looks hardly a steal (even Amazon want £17.50).

One final thought: whenever over the decades of teaching, Malcolm has come upon a well-balanced child, there tended to be an imagination at work, an ability to cross into worlds of fantasy, even a native delight in jokes and word-play. On the other hand, there are far too many warped minds, who — for one lack of reason or another — have been denied that fantasy. Sadly, too many of these minds are the victims of cults of one evil kind or another: the strict Moslem boy who rejected any kind of fiction on principle (someone else’s principle).

There are many good causes to scorn, even despise the verbose spoutings of Ms Rowling: religious wailing about Witchcraft! should never be one of them.

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Filed under Amazon, education, fiction, films, Rudyard Kipling, schools, Times Literary Supplement


Once upon a time, when the world was young, O Best Beloved, it was oh-so-simple.

Electric lights invariably came with bayonet fittings. All the consumer needed to do was grasp, turn clockwise, extract, and replace in reverse order. Most households managed on just two or, at most, three: 40, 60 and 100 watt. Even so, Malcolm’s garage has a dangling 150 watt bulb which must have been there for half-a-century.

Then we got those sophisticated cookers, ovens and other appliances, which were generally produced by some fiendish European. These came lighted with fiddly little screw-in jobs (you’d soon be left feeling a fool for not knowing these were “SES” bulbs, standing for “small Edison screw”). Replacing one of these could be a day’s work. First you had to work out how the protective diffuser or lens came off. In extreme cases this would require a patent screwdriver which you did not previously dream of needing. Then you have to peer hard to work out what was the wattage. Now a trip to the nearest electrical retailer for a replacement, which unfailingly cost three times any reasonable estimate. Back home to screw in, and then wrestle rescrewing (with that new screwdriver you won’t need for another year or two, and will have mislaid by the time it is again needed) and replacing the cover.

You probably and thoughtfully bought a spare (or the thing only came in packs of two), so you were now carrying two different types of bulbs. These smaller appliance bulbs would settle to the bottom of the box where you were storing them, and became overlooked. A few years down the road and you have developed quite a collection, particularly if the oven needs a different type to the refrigerator, to the micro-wave … and, without fail, the specialist retailer will assure you that you do.

Suddenly you found you had acquired a table lamp or whatever which had a big screw-in bulb. These, heh heh! you recognised as a big brother to SES, so you recognised “ES”. These have an interesting characteristic. After a couple of replacements the tag no longer makes contact with the bottom of the bulb. You now have to switch off at the mains, and “persuade” the tag to rise from its squashed state.

You now have a third category of bulb to store, also in various hottages and wattages.

As if you didn’t have enough complication in your life, enter the halogens. These come in various forms: some are tubes (as in those security lights) others are push-in, others still (these seem to be an IKEA speciality) have a bayonet fitting.

You are now up to at least four categories.

All of this forced itself upon Malcolm as he spent two happy days tidying cupboards. Actually, he started by emptying one cupboard, and repainting the interior. That’s why it stretched overnight, to apply the paint to dry. Having got this far, it seemed a good idea to attack the glory hole (every home has one, usually that crouch-down and shuffle job under the stairs).

Meanwhile, he found that one of the halogen bulbs ended replacing. However, after using a couple of “new” bulbs, neither of which worked, he became suspicious. Yes: not the bulb, but the attached transformer. So off to the shop for a new transformer. We shall not labour on how you clumsily blew the fuse for that lighting circuit, shall we, Malcolm? Nor that it was the one lighting circuit not on a RCB, but on an old-fashioned rewirable fuse. Nor that, after two hours, you still couldn’t find any fuse wire. Which involved a second trip to the shops.

An awful warning from the late Mr Belloc:

Lord Finchley tried to mend the Electric Light
Himself. It struck him dead: And serve him right!
It is the business of the wealthy man
To give employment to the artisan.

Cupboard love

The contents of those two cupboards accumulated a store of no fewer than sixty-three spare bulbs, tubes and what-sits, acquired piecemeal over thirty-odd years of household maintenance. And that’s why, ever since those two days, O Best Beloved, all the bulbs that you see are now neatly sorted and shelved into four see-through plastic boxes.

So, we’ll finish where we started, with Mr Kipling, and his exceedingly good takes:

I keep six honest serving-men:
    (They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
    And How and Why and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
    I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
    I give them all a rest.

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Filed under health, History, Literature, London, Rudyard Kipling

And treat those two impostors just the same

OK: that one started with those reports of Cameron and Clegg posturing, and imposturing at the CNH tractor plant at Basildon.

The photographers, out on the jolly, seemed to take pleasure in capturing very odd body language (example, right), while the columnists were just out for a laugh, The Guardian‘s Michael White as much as anyone:

Almost exactly two years after their fateful tryst in the Downing Street rose garden, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are sick and tired of people likening their coalition knee-trembler to a marriage. Politically speaking, they’re not even engaged. And, if they were, they’d be dividing up the CDs after last week’s election battering.

Where better to shake off the taint of matrimonial metaphor and renew their alliance on a more business-like footing than in Basildon? No one goes on honeymoon to Basildon. Southend perhaps, but not to the 60s new town, home patch of the legendary reality TV show, The Only Way is Essex. So Essex it was.

Just to be on the safe side and eradicate the last vestigial scent of the rose garden romance (how could they have behaved that way on a first date?), their minders dispatched the pair to the thriving, Fiat-owned New Holland factory where they assemble 26,000 tractors a year, mostly for export. If only all Britain could be like this!

The macho, male-dominated backdrop thus provided for the Cameron-Clegg anniversary speeches, plus Q&A, was strangely evocative of the Soviet era of heroic five-year tractor plans and targets regularly smashed, at least on paper.

Ann Treneman, in the new “Dave-not-so-friendly” Times [£], was up for the odd zinger, too:

A mere two years ago Dave and Nick strolled down the garden path, birds singing, sun shining, bees buzzing. I suppose the danger signs were there last year when they spent their first anniversary at the handball arena in the Olympic Park. But tractors?

Next year, who knows? Maybe it will be an abattoir.

The award for Murdochian butchery, though, must go to Michael Savage’s twitter message:

The tractor factory Cam and Clegg are visiting appears to make Big Blue tractors that pull little yellow trailers…

Another dimension of If

Joy, indeed, to find old-friends back among the strips in The Guardian. Steve Bell has brought back Seaman Kipling, apparently for the Falklands anniversary:

The penguins can never be far away — another of Bell’s inspired creations.

No Bell artefact could possibly be cute and cuddly. His penguins are not the photogenics featured by the London Zoo. They have teeth. They bite. As did Professor Pongoo, who ran fifth (behind two assorted Hendersons and a couple of Tories  — by the way, it looks as if the Scottish Tories haven’t quite got the hand of this transferable vote business) in the Edinburgh Pentland Hills Ward. As is widely reported and commented upon, Pongoo was well ahead of the LibDem. Which is one of the two “astonishing statistics” about that Ward: the other is that all but fifty of eight thousand ballots cast were deemed “valid votes”. The strong temptation must have been to scrawl Trams!, and leave it at that— one issue above all else did for any hope the Edinburgh LibDems had, as well as for any vestige of a competent reputation. What doesn’t get so noted in the reports is that Pongoo also bit off the Green candidate. That ought to be worthy of note, for the Greens in Scotland are pro-SNP referendum, and had a working relationship with the SNP in the 2007 Assembly, so have some claim to be a “national” party.

One last thought

For now, at any rate.

There’s a lot of imposturing pretence in politics at any time. With the revelations we are promised from Leveson, courtesy of Mrs Brooks and Coulson, there’s rather more than usual this week.

For all the palaver over the Queen’s Speech, it took much padding to get it to stretch out over a mauvais quart d’heure.

So, back to Kipling and If.

We are blaming it on you, Cameron and Clegg. Even among your own, many doubt you. You have, most assuredly, dealt in lies. As Peter Cruddas crudely expounded, some men, those laden with lucre, clearly count with you … too much. You walked and talked, and rode, with Murdoch’s, and — with that and the 50p tax rate — were seen to lose the common touch. You can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of twaddle and distortion. You certainly don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.

Your reward: even the Bookies are giving odds that that Labour will be the biggest party after the next Election.

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Filed under Ann Treneman, Conservative Party policy., Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, economy, Elections, Guardian, Labour Party, Lib Dems, Literature, Murdoch, Nick Clegg, Paul Waugh, Penguins, politics, Quotations, Rudyard Kipling, Scotland, Scottish Parliament, SNP, social class, Steve Bell, Times, Tories.

Tommy revisited

I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

… or when Workington needs to bridge the Derwent:

The bridge, named after Pc Bill Barker who died when the Northside Bridge collapsed due to flooding on November 20, opened at 8:00AM this morning at a rain-soaked ceremony attended by Minister of State for the Armed Forces Bill Rammell and local residents and children.

The construction effort ran to schedule with the nose landing on the far bank on Friday afternoon, and street furniture installed over the weekend. Shuttle bus services are running from either end of the bridge, reuniting the north and south sides of the town.

“Everything went to plan. All of the guys are proud of their achievement,” said Royal Engineer senior engineer Major Grant Kerr.

With thanks to the Royal Engineers and the others.

Not forgetting a small tip of the hat to the kind soul who donated to the Oxfam book-shop The Definitive Edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Verse. Until now, Malcolm has struggled on with a couple of selections — though one of those is T.S.Eliot’s Selection, so no bad deal in itself.

As for Tommy, in view of the on-going complaints about service accommodation and then about kit for Afghanistan, it seems that nothing changes:

You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.

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Filed under Britain, History, Military, Rudyard Kipling, working class