Josephus Daniels was a North Carolinian appointed by President Wilson to be Secretary of the Navy during the First World War. Daniels is famous for many things but particularly he objected to alcohol on ships and ordered that coffee be served instead. The author Garrett Peck in his book “The Great War in America” reports that recruits groused about their “cup of Josephus” which today is referred to as a “Cup of Joe”. (This thought is challenged on the internet – but has an aura of authenticity about it and in any case deserves to be true).
My brother and I tend to meet up two or three times a year to have a decent lunch and catch up on the events in our lives and those of our nearest and dearest.
Recently we lunched at the Royal Oak in Stambridge, Essex. We were discussing family history and wondered whether our parents would have been proud of us had they not died over seventy years ago. Our conclusion was that they would have been proud of us – particularly as we were enjoying hors d’oeuvres of pigeon’s breast with black pudding accompanied by a French Cabernet Sauvignon.
This conversation came back to me when I came across the attached photograph of West Ham Bus Garage in the aftermath of its bombing on 30th July 1944.Which was the same evening that a stray (!) bomb hit our house causing my brother and me (who were in a Morrison Shelter) to become orphans.
You do not have to be a fan of Dad’s Army to reflect on what would have happened had Great Britain lost the war. We would have become a colony of the Third Reich and our assets and resources would have been transferred to the centre on an ongoing basis – since the purpose of colonies is to produce wealth for the centre and not absorb the resources of the empire.
Flash forward seventy odd years and what do we have? We have assets and resources being transferred from Great Britain to the centre (now in Brussels) on an ongoing basis with very little influence on how they are managed and spent.
All of a sudden I see Brexit in a different light.
A commentator observed this morning that the mid-term results were good enough for everyone to find something to be joyous about.
The Republicans in N.C. kept enough seats to hold their majority in the N.C. General Assembly. The Democrats won enough seats to overturn the Republicans’ veto proof super majority.
The three candidates mentioned in my blog of 24 October were all successful.
Anita Earls is on the N.C. Supreme Court and promises to apply the law equally to everyone, no matter their race or how much money they have in their pocket – an impartial judiciary that operates without fear or favor is the cornerstone of a healthy and thriving democracy. The court currently has a 4-3 Democratic majority, and Earls will shift it to a 5-2 Democratic majority. Although, much of the court’s work is non-political, it often rules on lawsuits involving the state legislature or governor.
Susan Evans collected 61% of the votes cast and so is now firmly a member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Democratic challenger for sheriff, Gerald M. Baker upset longtime Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison, out-polling the Republican incumbent by a wide margin (approximately 10% with nearly all precincts reporting at midnight)
Outgoing sheriff Donnie Harrison congratulated Gerald Baker wishing him the best and promising that if there was anything he could do he was there to help.
Justifiably, Wake County Democrats are immensely proud that 45 of their 49 endorsed candidates won their election bids.
To the victors go the spoils, to the vanquished an opportunity to lick their wounds, review the past and decided whether to run again next time. Every candidate goes into an election with the belief that they can make life better for the residents. Some can convey that message better than others.
The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill is said to have observed that all politics is local. And so, I take a great interest in what is happening in the current election in the city, the county and the state. I have been to a number of political lunches and suppers and have seen or met many candidates, some of whom stick in the mind (for good reasons and bad) and some stand out as candidates worth supporting. Every candidate goes into an election with the belief that they can make life better for the residents. Some have a better chance than others and some are worthier than others.
I have seen three candidates who impress.
First is Anita Earls who is running for N.C. Supreme Court. She is a Yale Law School graduate and speaks with feeling as to how her own family experienced tragedy and were denied lawful redress. Her personal experiences fuel her passion for justice and a hunger for fairness for all.
Susan Evans wishes to be a member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Her promise is to ensure that our county’s continued growth will keep Wake a great place to live, work and learn! Challenges exist in meeting the needs of the growing community. Susan will bring a cool head and a warm heart to the County’s deliberations.
Gerald Baker, is running for Wake County Sheriff. He has nearly 28 years of Wake Sheriff’s Office experience including assignments in each divisional area of the Office. What I liked about Mr. Baker’s presentation was the way he highlighted the need to refocus the department. For example, currently it does not follow up on incomplete 911 calls. Thus, leaving the callers still with their problems which logically can only get worse – yet nipping crime in the bud is an essential police duty. Gerald promises to be Sheriff for all people.
Why am I involving myself? Because on Monday morning I was at the Optimists’ Park Polling Station from seven until ten meeting, greeting and handing out party “slate sheets”. The early morning temperature was just above freezing. So, I have earned the right to voice my opinion.
The Wall Street Journal on October 6th carried a review by Judith Flanders of the book “Behind the Throne” by Adrian Tinniswood.
The review contained a fairly detailed report on the royal employees/servants. Queen Elizabeth for example has 1,200 people looking after her and her households.
Medals are given for long service in lieu of what are known to be extremely poor salaries. The royal households of previous centuries did little better. Under Queen Victoria, reforms to a chaotic private Buckingham Palace lowered the wages of the maids by almost two-thirds, to as low as £12 a year, while leaving unchanged the salary of the queen’s hereditary grand falconer (a position held by an aristocrat) at £1,200 per annum. Never mind that the she had no falcons, nor any intention of ever acquiring them.
At this point I have to express a personal interest in this story. My great grandmother worked in Queen Victoria’s Windsor Castle laundry. I suspect that the wages were less than a £1 a month and I can understand why it was not a long term career path nor a stepping stone on to greater things.
With such arbitrary penny pinching it is no wonder the Royals feared the revolutions which swept Europe and the United States in the late eighteenth century.
And perhaps the wonder is how the Royal Family managed to survive and prosper to the present day with such attitudes.
I have occasionally blogged on the joys of Aberystwyth and its place as a University town in the far west of Wales. The story is that its railway line escaped axing in the Beeching era, not because the line was profitable but because it ran through five Labour held parliamentary constituencies.
It is a nice place to visit, not just because we have family there but because of its indomitable spirit of activism despite the efforts of the City fathers.
This spirit is exemplified by the sign I saw in a car window.
Does it mean that Aber is overrun by ravening hordes who will smash a car window in search of stale (or otherwise) food. No, it means that if due to idiosyncrasies in the licensing laws, the pie shops close before throwing out time at the local bars, then there is no profit to be found scavenging in the parked vehicles looking for left over sea gull food.
From time to time I read one of the lessons at the Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in Raleigh. The first reading on July 22nd is from Jeremiah. Normally I like to avoid Jeremiah and Job as they are not the most cheerful of prophets and I prefer to enjoy the more declamatory words of Isiah, Ezekiel or Nathan.
The reading on the 22nd is about the negligent “shepherds” of the people who deserved better leadership.
Much of Jeremiah’s work was in Judah’s capital Jerusalem. He tried to keep several kings faithful to their stewardship amidst an atmosphere of political intrigue and backstabbing. Jeremiah was blunt about what was right and what was not, and he suffered at the hands of the powerful because of his outspokenness. At the time of his prophecy, a good king in Judah had just been replaced by a king who put the country in thrall to Egypt. Jeremiah raged against this policy.
The reading is Jeremiah’s response to the negligent leaders. I first read the passage as a reproachful piece but looking at the readers’ notes I was encouraged to see that it is proclamatory and that I should not let Jeremiah sound like he’s on Valium. If anything, he should sound as if he is on steroids and caffeine.
He was a vigorous, courageous, outspoken man. He thunders on behalf of a God outraged at the powerful people’s neglect of their responsibility to the poor. “I gave you the privileges of a shepherd, you mislead and scatter the flock!”
Any linkage between the events and characters of 200 B.C. and the present day are purely unintentional and coincidental.
On the other hand, I think I’ve known some readers for whom Valium is the default mode when tackling the readings. But for me, for this week at least it’s a case of onwards with the steroids and caffeine!