Archive for the ‘John Stammers Page’ Category

Cellar Door

Posted: November 16, 2021 in John Stammers Page

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I was watching the film, Donnie Darko, again the other night – lost count of viewings now – those young Gyllenhaal siblings, aw.
And what a soundtrack!

There’s that moment where the young teacher, as she packs her belongings having just been fired, tells Donnie D how the phrase Cellar Door was considered the most euphonious, ‘perfect’ English sound.

‘Cellar Door’ also propels the main characters to their crisis point, before the great ending.

And who was that teacher? Played by Drew Barrymore. She was really vey funny in Santa Clarita Diet.
And who was Donnie Darko’s psychologist Dr Lilian Thurman? Katherine Ross. Among her many credits is one of the important characters in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; in Stepford Wives, that really chilling film. And of course, The Colbys.

Donnie Darko was released in 2001.

On ‘Cellar Door’, Wiki gives us:

The English compound noun cellar door has been widely cited as an example of a word or phrase that is beautiful purely in terms of its sound (i.e., euphony) without inherent regard for its meaning.[12] The phenomenon of cellar door being regarded as euphonious appears to have begun in the very early twentieth century, first attested in the 1903 novel Gee-Boy by the Shakespeare scholar Cyrus Lauron Hooper. It has been promoted as beautiful-sounding by various writers; linguist Geoffrey Nunberg specifically names the writers H. L. Mencken in 1920; David Allan Robertson in 1921; Dorothy ParkerHendrik Willem van Loon, and Albert Payson Terhune in the 1930s; George Jean Nathan in 1935; J. R. R. Tolkien as early as a 1955 speech titled “English and Welsh“; and C. S. Lewis in 1963.[12][13] Furthermore, the phenomenon itself is touched upon in many sources and media, including a 1905 issue of Harper’s Magazine by William Dean Howells,[a] the 1967 novel Why Are We in Vietnam? by Norman Mailer, a 1991 essay by Jacques Barzun,[15] the 2001 psychological drama film Donnie Darko,[16][17] and a scene in the 2019 movie Tolkien.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonaesthetics

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Back in 1986 there was an English TV series, The Singing Detective, written by Dennis Potter. A nightclub singer who also solved crimes, basically, played by a much younger Michael Gambon, yep, Dumbledore.

Taken to hospital he underwent fevers and recovered, ably assisted by a nurse, played by Joanne Whalley, shortly before she married Val Kilmer.

Part of the detective/singer’s recovery was the revelation that the most perfect English sound is carried by the word 

‘elbow’.

Incidentally this ‘elbow’ gave name to the English band:
They changed their name a second time to ‘Elbow’ in 1997, inspired by a line in the BBC TV drama The Singing Detective in which the character Philip Marlow describes the word “elbow” as the loveliest word in the English language.[12] 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbow_%28band%29

So, is it Cellar Door, or Elbow?
This would suggest it is all a matter of subjective judgement.

They do both carry the same sound sequence, however: the short e: ce… and el…, followed by the lingual ‘l’, then there is the discrepancy between plosive ‘b’ and dental ‘d’, to be followed by a rounded o : door, and bow.
Does this b-d discrepancy tell us how vocalics have changed over time between England and USA? How has usage changed the palate?

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And ‘Aye but’, I thought, watching the film, ‘Cellar Door is so obviously a French sound’. 
Think of cela d’or : ‘that gold/golden’.

You can’t really go wrong with this French one
Both sound and meaning.

That muted sibilant ‘c’ of ‘cellar’ that is absent in the more direct English English ‘elbow’… is not that, perhaps, more… French?
In the meld of American English, is there an aesthetic echo remaining, of French?

It could, of course, be that the English English ‘elbow’ is the corrupt version. It retains more clearly the mouth movements of front front to inner – bite-off to mouthful, as the gestural origin of language would have it, but misses so much else.
The American English ‘cellar door’, with its echoes of French, of romance sounds, is certainly the version to prefer. N’est ce pas?

And… in America… is it cellar, or basement… door?

The title phrase ‘Cid’ is from an Arabic word sidi/sayyid, ‘Sir.
Nor are the Moors in the tale portrayed as badly as in ‘The Song of Roland’. There are many examples of the Cid taking and being received by Moors as friends. There is a lot of in-fighting amongst the Muslim inhabitants in the tale: towns held by the Cid earlier on are grateful to him for his releasing them with property and lives intact as he moved out to take on the bigger rulers, the ones who also had laid burdens on the smaller towns.

We see in the history of the Alhambra in Granada how the delightful gardens witnessed much slaughter and bloodshed by rival Muslim rulers. It is important here to distinguish between the Umayyad Arabic rule, based at Cordoba, and the new incursions of warlike Berbers from North Africa. The Berbers overthrew the settled Muslim rule and threw Muslim Spain into chaos as they vied for power and control amongst themselves (Introduction, Night and Horses and the Desert – An Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature, by R Irwin).

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One source states, that the entire work was divided into three parts in 1910. This has significance; although the text itself does divide into sections by explicitly stating ends and beginnings in the places the cantares are introduced. The only ambiguous one is the last one: the cantare begins with the humiliation of the Infantes in the ‘lion episode’, whilst the Penguin Classics edition begins it on the marriage betrothal of the Cid’s daughters, prior to this, and where the Infantes come into the story fully.

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In the first cantare we meet the Cid, his devoted friends, his family – he had just been banished from Castile. We don’t know why, because the first page of the ms is missing, and no copy has yet turned up.

He left his family at the monastery, had a dream of greatness, and then had to go out from Castile. None were allowed, on pain of death, to sell him food, or allow him a bed for the night.
He had to plan a ruse to raise money to fund his foray, and support his followers.
Once outside of Castile he first of all planned and executed raids on Muslim townships along a river course. Each was successful, through the Cid’s use of tactics. He was able to send back his first gift to King Alfonzo. Following this he planned a much more difficult raid among a bigger series of towns. This raid involved planning, trickery and subterfuge; he gained great prestige and booty from this.

We see the cantare begin with the Cid’s banishment from Castile, and it end with the restoration of the Count of Barcelona to his freedom and region. The high point of the cantare must surely be the presentation of the first gift to King Alfonzo. It followed from this act that the Cid’s’ followers were pardoned for their part in helping him, and allowed home.
Home is the hidden theme here, that informs beginning, middle and end of the cantare.

The second cantare has three main raids: one in the Levantine, the second in the towns surrounding Valencia, including the lengthy siege of the city. Then he settled the city as a reconquered Christian city.
The emir of Seville was defeated in battle, and much booty gained.
The Cid set up a Christian bishopric, and was henceforth allowed restitution of his family. They all settled in Valencia.
The last battle was with King Yusuf of Morocco.
This was by far the greatest. The spoils were magnificent. He sent back his greatest gift to King Alfonzo, and won his own pardon.
His renown as a great and wealthy warrior was settled.

The two main battles book-end the seizure of Valencia, whose capture depicted a very prolonged siege as a battle of wills between Spain and Moor. The battle with the emir of Seville ran concurrently with the winning of Valencia.

This is surely the centre of the poem. All changes from here; from now on the whole tone of the poem is different. The latter part of the poem is concerned with justice under Spanish law, whereas the first parts were concerned winning prestige – is there a hint of injustice in his exile? – wealth and a reputation for loyalty and honesty. That is, of winning back his place in the Spanish sphere of civility and legality.

Throughout, the poem set out to prove the Cid’s loyalty and honourable character.
One under-theme image is the beard of the Cid; he vowed never to cut it (or have it travestied) until he won restitution. All through the poem are references to his beard: well, the poem does take years to run the story’s course: even the King was outclassed by the Cid’s beard! Ok, but the point being the beard is a mark of the Cid’s commitment to the cause, and an emblem of his prestige.

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The first cantare saw the Cid banished, cut off from family and legal recourse. He fought three campaigns against the Moors of Henares, the Jalon River, and the Jiloca River. At each he won bounty and wealth.

In the last cantare of the poem we saw three legal challenges to the treachery of the Infantes whereby the Cid reclaimed his generously given wealth; and also three duels – one duel per campaign. He won back, by recourse to Spanish law, his position and prestige.

We began (despite the lost first page) with the Cid realising his banishment from Castile (a metonym for Christian Spain), and end with the Cid helping unite Spain through marriage. The central event also echoed in this, where we saw the Cid settle Valencia and environs for Christian Spain, but also establish a Christian bishopric there under battling Bishop Jeronimo.

The reverse order of events is encapsulated in the court case: the lawsuit, the duels, the marriages (laisses 135-52).

So, yes, it does work. We have a ring of the whole poem, and as in true classical style, the three smaller rings of the cantares.

But where did Per Abbad learn of the structure? So little has come down from pre-Moorish Spain. But what of Mozarabic Spain? I may have to hunt out Arabic sources, but also perhaps Sephardic as well.

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We see in the Penguin edition of ‘The Cid’ what has been called the prosification of the poem. The term is relatively self-explanatory; the implications, however, are not. With prosification goes the break-down of the line; epithets and formulas are lost, as their function in the line is lost.
As we know from chiasmic and particularly ring construction, these play an important structural role, indicating a parallelism, point of special notice or as rhythmic notifier.
Benjamin Smith notes the symmetry that chiasmus gives to a work is important to its message. He examples the interior chiasmic form in the lines 2402-3, ‘Los de mio Çid a los de Búcar de las tiendas los sacan,/ sácanlos de las tiendas, cáenlos en alcazas’, as the form  A B C C B A. This is a particularly interesting chiasmus because it is the only instance where we bridge two stanzas, 117 and 118.
The translation has it: ‘The Cid’s men drove Bucor’s men out of their tents.// When they had driven them out they fell to the pursuit.’
What we see here, what we can say the chiasmus is drawing out attention to, is how the poem is skillfully structured to emphasise an ongoing action that changes as the fortunes of the two parties change. The Cid here encounters Muslim King Bucor outside Valencia, and the battle turns in the Cid’s favour.

 We begin to see here how richly textured the text is in the original Spanish. This written text also appears to be richly structured, with many inner treasures and smaller rings. Perhaps this implies the poem was also a part of a national treasury, for which read a cultural heirloom of sorts.

Occupied City, by Paul Van Ostaijen is a Belgian Dada masterpiece.

Republished and translated by David Colmer, in 2016, by Smokestack Books, it retains all the typographic experiments of the original.
And these have to be seen to be appreciated.
https://smokestack-books.co.uk/book.php?book=123

Originally published in 1921 as ‘a work of rhythmical typography’, (book jacket) it must have been a typesetter’s nightmare. Ably aided and abetted, though, by Flemish artist Oscar Jespers it works wonderfully.

Ok, but is it just a gem of cultural history?
I find it very relevant to our immediate present.

The artifact – it is more than a book – gives the expression of a city overtaken by foreign troops.
Set in the outbreak and throughout the First World War, and centred on the writer’s home city of Antwerp, it captures the German army sweeping through the region; the occupation; and how the inhabitants struggle with this. It also captures the hollow euphoria of the withdrawal on the Armistice.
The text centres on the inhabitant’s breaking and broken sensibilities, their lives, capturing in fractured typesetting their cultural materials.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_van_Ostaijen

The text is divided into thirteen sections, headings: Dedication, Threatened City, Hollow Harbour, Brothel, Zeppelin, Sous Les Ponts de Paris, City of Grief, Good News, Music Hall, Asta Nielsen, Mobile, Folies Bar, The Withdrawal.

The effect is cumulative; you also have to read cumulatively to savour the layout.
In Threatened City we get a very strong impression of the approaching big guns, the increasing threat, the breaking spirit of the people under occupation, the desolation .

The     ciTy     STands       STill
as if the city’s                                         strings have been cut   
 

………………………………………………………………
are we or are we performing a macabre play

There is a description of an oil spill, its black lake spreading out further and further, ruining all. Like an aerial view of Flanders, under German uniforms 
And throughout the book we hear the constant beat of 

ein zeit ein zeit ein zeit                                 of marching columns of soldiers

………………………………………………………………………….

conquering houses city country
smashed anthill
people flee

Into backrooms
blind blinds

And then that stomach churning

All citizens are required to  

Later  

You moved amongst the press-ganged unemployed
long trains to Germany full of ragged men and half-grown boys

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I cannot help but see reflections of present-day Kandahar, Kabul here, undergoing these same or similar experiences. 

This is what most people in England, North America, have not experienced, the forced occupation of one’s city, country, by another.

Then there follows the prohibitions, the demands on resources, the shortages because all basics go to the occupier; the forced work – usually making munitions to flatten your own country further, and to inflict the same on neighbouring cities, countries.
The breaking of the spirit. The desolation.

Paul Van Ostaijen did not prettify the experience, he noted the unburied corpses, the ruined people, buildings, and also how the end of the war did not end the war-experience.

Not just a book: in the original language it added all the phonetics and sonority of the language in local popular songs of the time, snatches of lyrics. Visually it is amazing, textually daring.
So it is an audial, visual, textual, semantic, let’s go with this some more: historical, cultural, political, urban, metropolitan, aesthetic, but also down-to-earth and satirical, nihilistic, modernist, Dadaist. 

It was written in Dutch, plus with Flemish variants, French, German, Latin, even English. It is indeed, multi-vocal.

The publishers have added very welcome notes to the text at the end. We get the references, and the translations. 

Astra Nielsen, for instance, on whom the writer devotes a whole section. She was a Danish film actress of the silent era. And obviously a source of great comfort at the time.

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Paul Van Ostaijen died horribly early, aged 32, of TB
In that brief time – shall we say ten years – he produced this work, but also collected his other writings, poems, into several collections. Of which, in 1982 was published, The first book of Schmoll: selected poems 1920-1928 (English), Bridges Books, Amsterdam.

There is thankfully a generous selection of translations available on the Poetry International site: 

https://www.poetryinternational.org/pi/poet/6636/Paul-van-Ostaijen/en/tile

The PI page tells us The poet aimed to endow his poems with the lyrical naturalness of children’s songs, counterbalanced by an unfamiliar inner resonance and depth. That was at any rate what poetry was to him: “word play that is anchored in metaphysics.”

I find them hilarious, and for myself find I am in a better place because of the man and his work.
The man?
Wiki tells us: His nickname was Mister 1830, derived from his habit of walking along the streets of Antwerp clothed as a dandy from that year.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_van_Ostaijen

Mention must be made of Katy Mawhood, fonts specialist at Oxford University Press.
And without whom this book would lack its great innovations.

I treasure this book.

The Ripples of Hope Festival is delighted to have commissioned and unveil a powerful new body of work: The Poetic Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

www.homemcr.org

Simon Armitage has convened 30 poets from around the world to create a unique poetic response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Join Simon as he hosts the poets as they unveil this work for the first time, with music from Jaydev Mistry.

From 15th to 19th September
Venue: Home, Manchester

With events including the unveiling of a new poetic response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an In Conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton and three days of discussions, workshops, storytelling and performances, this brand new 5-day festival asks us to:

  • Think about the challenges we face as communities and as humanity;
  • Celebrate the power of people to make change; and
  • Explore how we can – together – take action in our communities and across the world to create a future that truly serves people.

After a year that has isolated and divided us, the Festival is a place to meet, share ideas and experiences – and to get excited about changing the world for the better. Add your voice to a weekend of exhilarating and challenging debate, intimate conversations, inspiring stories, workshops and performances, as we explore the world we can create together.

Join local and international community activists, performers, poets, organisers and artists as we delve into our five core themes:

  • Dignity & Justice
  • Equity & Equality
  • Arts & Culture
  • Activism & Participation
  • Environment & Climate Change

CarSun re-post

Posted: August 11, 2021 in John Stammers Page
Tags: ,

It may have been the angle of the sun over roofs –
it may have been a case of right place at right time –

it definitely was a moment out of time on a hot street.100_1186

100_1187
100_1188

On the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, is the Tanabata Festival in Japan.
Why only then?
It is all based a story from early Japan.

This is the story, one of the many, connected with the Milky Way in the night sky. In Japan it is known as the River of the Sky.

It is the story of two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who represent the stars Vega, and Altair. They are only allowed to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, at the River of the Sky.
It is a based on poems in the Manyoshu volume, ‘Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves’.  It can be traced back, in turn, to an old Chinese tale, The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The corresponding Chinese festival is the Qixi Festival, of the 7th of the 7th.

The Weaver Girl,  was, of course, a princess, and… was she weaving the pattern of the stars and constellations? Her father grew concerned that in her lonely profession she was not able to meet any young men. He invited the cowherd (who herded the cows of heaven?), to meet her.

The meeting went very well, and in time they fell in love. They were able to marry.
On marriage, however, they neglected their duties.
It was thought best for all if they were separated, and only allowed to meet once a year. On meeting, though, they found themselves on opposite sides of the Sky River. Orihime wept so much and so hard that a flock of magpies took pity, flew down and made her a bridge with their wings.

If it rains on the seventh day of the seventh month, though, the magpies may not be able to come.

Tonight he takes his one journey of the year
             Over the Heavenly River, passing Yasu Beach –
He, the love-lorn Oxherd longing for his maid,
Whom he can never see but once a year,
Though from the beginning of heaven and earth
They have have stood face to face across the Heavenly River

……………………………………………………………………………………….
 Tonight, this seventh night of the seventh moon – 
Strangely it thrills my heart.

(excerpted from: Japanese Love Poems, Selections from the Manyoshu. Edited by Evan Bates, Dover Publications Inc., 2005)

People write messages, poems, prayers, and hang them from trees on this day.

Astronomically, on this date, the distance between Vega, part of the Harp constellation, and Altair, The Eagle constellation, is bridged by a group of stars called The Coathanger, more properly Brocchi’s cluster.
This arrangement forms a straight line with a few dotted stars above this in the centre.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocchi%27s_Cluster

600px-Collinder_399_Paslieres_2007_08_05

Is this the bridge Hikoboshi crosses?

in Flanders.

Well, leaky roofs were, if not the norm, then, an expected annoyance.

Take the case of George Chastellain, appointed chronicler and celebrator of the ducs de Burgundy, Philip the Good, and successor, Charles the Bold.
This spanned the period 1419 to 1477.
George Chastellain was active in his role between 1450s to 1470s.

It is the latter part of his life we have most incidental details.
In 1455 he moved into a ducal property in Valenciennes, of the Flemish/French border. The move was permanent.

There is nothing material of that period left, now. WW2 saw to that; the city had to be almost wholly rebuilt after the War.

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What we have, was pieced together from various written sources by Graeme Small, in his book :
George Chastellain and the Shaping of Valois Burgundy, (The Royal Historical Society/Boydell Press, 1997).

In his earlier career, setting out into his literary life, he had work performed before the best writer of the time, Charles D’Orleans, resettled from a quarter century of ‘enforced’ English residence.
The work presented, The Azure Throne, was warmly received, both by duke Philip the Good, as well as Charles D’Orleans.

The residence, we are told, was situated in central Valenciennes as-was. The building (‘le lorgis Jorge’) overlooked the Escaut canal at the back, whilst the front had a courtyard. Oh, and a well. How easily we forget these basic necessities.
It was situated ‘close to’ the house of the grand receiver, and on the other, er… an oat loft. OK.

The building had a cellar, and chapel. Standard, then.
The ground floor was a ducal stables. Also there was a kitchen down there. Hm.

The actual rooms, chambers, etc, were up a staircase, which had doors leading off.
The staircase led up to a gallery. Here were the main rooms.
This gallery, however, was sort of like a cloister, open to the weather. In time he had to have installed wooden frames to stop the wind.

Off this draughty passage,’ writes Graeme Small, ‘lay several rooms…. Among these rooms were ‘le grant chambre de George Chastellain’, and one further, private room…. Built at Chastellain’s request, this was his ‘comptoir’ … where he wrote….

This was not a property for a family to live. George Chastellain did not marry, although he did have an acknowledged child, Gonthier.
Gonthier was brought up by his mother. By the time of his ‘majority’ his father had already died. His successor, Jean Molinet, elected to support the claims of Gonthier to applications for ducal support.

The times had changed, however. Charles the Bold was a very different character to Philip the Good. He was ‘the Bold’, but this also meant merciless, fearless. He was a warrior duke, and died in battle. He was expansionist, and his time was an unsettled time.

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Here was George Chastellain at Valenciennes, away now, from the ducal court, as well as his ambassadorial missions to the royal court.
But Valenciennes was at an important meeting place en route between the two. Missives and ducal and court callers came constantly.
He wrote his great Chronicles here.

These Chronicles were lost, forgotten for centuries, until rediscovered.
… first edited by Buchon in Les chroniques nationales 1827 and re-edited by Kervyn de Lettenhove.: https://en.google-info.org/2406219/1/georges-chastellain.htmlhttps://en.google-info.org/2406219/1/georges-chastellain.html

These Chronicles, as well as George Chastellain’s surviving written works: political poems, ballades, formal poems, pieces written to other writers, allegorical plays etc became the main source material, or should we say, spring-board, for the huge and famous work
The Waning of the Middle-Ages,
by Johan Huizinga.

Here we read of the all-round sensual experience of the times: the noises – of parades, animals, people in general; the smells: no toilets, remember, and living close to animals, as here; the colours – this was the time of Jan Van Ecyk: look at those costumes.
jan-van-eyck.org
The gorgeous costumes, and furnishings of the Arnolfini portrait, give us a glimpse into the period, the Italian connections, and supposedly portrays their residence in Bruges.
This was also the period, and environment, for the great works of Flemish composer Johannes Ockeghem (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Ockeghem)

Interestingly, when George Chastellain was taken on as chronicler of the Duke of Burgundy, Jan Van Eyck was also on the payroll. From the records of their recorded pay, George Chastellain’s the highest of the two.

George Chastellain was one the earliest of what became known as the Grands Rhétoriqueurs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grands_Rhétoriqueurs).
They were many, in time, and what may of begun as a latinate chronicling and court entertainments, evolved as writer responded to writer. We had eventually a force, and their fascination with “copia“, verbal games and the difficulties of interpretation link them to such Renaissance figures as Erasmus and Rabelais. (http://artandpopularculture.com/Rhétoriqueurs)

Such literary movements set off their own trajectories.
They were succeeded by rejection, and counter-claim for prominence, by Pierre de Ronsard’s La Pléiade.
But also both were rejected by the example of Francois Villon and his anti-rhetorical, ultra-realist writings.


hongkongfp.com
Hong Kong Free Press:

Founded in 2015, Hong Kong Free Press is an impartial, non-profit, English-language newspaper. Run by journalists, backed by readers and completely independent, HKFP is governed by a public code of ethics.

Our mission: We aim to be the most independent and credible English-language news source in Greater China. We seek to amplify the voices of the voiceless, not the powerful and will monitor the status of Hong Kong’s core values and freedoms. The HKFP team is fully committed to reporting the facts, without fear, favour or interference.

The monumental architectural installation ‘The Passenger’ in Mons was brought down today, ending a five-and-a-half-year run arching over the narrow Rue Nimy. The work was created by Belgian artist Arne Quinze and erected in 2015 during the European Capital of Culture celebrations.

https://www.thebulletin.be/passenger-wooden-sculpture-mons-comes-end

For more on Arne Quinze, see:


https://www.arnequinze.com

And, the end of The Passenger:

https://www.arnequinze.com/atelier-studio/demolition-of-the-passenger

I love this work.

Also, from Belgium

When you thought the Care Home/Nursing Home catastrophe was so terrible, a ray of fun/sun:


https://www.thebulletin.be/molenbeek-nursing-home-produces-hilarious-send-frozen

As for Thérésa, she told RTL that it took quite a lot of prodding from Youssef to get her to agree to be the star of the show. “You might not believe it, but I’m extremely shy,” she said. “But I wasn’t myself anymore; I had become the Snow Queen.”

Glorious! Wonderful people.

Kohima

Posted: February 17, 2021 in John Stammers Page
Tags: , , , ,

I have never been one wowed by military campaigns, or an avid devotee of battles, wars, the armed forces. I hope I never will.
Every so often, though, something strikes home, and the cost of the courage of people makes an impact.
Here’s one example.

The date; March – May 1944
The place: Kohima, Nagaland, India
The event: WW 2 battle between Indian-British troops and a Japanese regiment
Importance: turning point on Japanese front
People:  men from modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Japanese forces

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-55625447Robin Rowland (seated, centre) with members of the Punjab regiment, pictured in Bangkok in 1945I was astonished to read this account, of how Indian-British soldiers held off a far superior number of Japanese soldiers for three months.
The impact was to be tumultuous: … by June 1944, with more than 7,000 casualties and almost no food supplies left, the Japanese division retreated and returned to Burma.
This was the first time the imperial Japanese forces had been defeated. The impact on everyone’s morale was huge.

No matter what you think of war, combat, but what these men went through – yes, I am aware of how little choice played in the matter – has to be honoured. 1500 Indian’British troops went through sheer living hell for three months defending Garrison Hill’s strategic entry point to Manipur and Assam, against more than 15,000 so-far invincible, Japanese troops. There was aerial bombardment, and ending in hand-t0-hand fighting.
The relief Punjab regiment-British troops arrived in May. I should think they expected to find a massacre. The scene had that about it, but troops survived, held out, and had held off. The Indian sub-continent was saved.

The relief troops were ordered to pursue the retreating Japanese troops. Cholera and malaria cut down many in retreat, but the main killer was starvation.
These are shocking details. This is the reality of war, fighting. There was no honour in death, here. Were any remembered, except by grieving families who never knew what had happened, or where?

This is very different, however, from the forced Death Marches of concentration camp internees.

Commemoration? Partition swept away a lot of commitment to such memorials. And the new India, Pakistan, later Bangladesh, saw it all as clouded in colonialism.
For whatever reason, the Indian regiment fought and died courageously.

The special bond between deadly enemies is also a thing of surprise, wonder: “When the Japanese and the British veterans of Kohima met, they hugged each other and started crying,” he said. “These were the soldiers who had fired at each other, but still they showed a special bond. It was spontaneous and we didn’t expect it.”
Many from the Nagaland region helped with intelligence and ground knowledge, as well as fighting with the troops. They were hoping for British help in establishing their own Nagaland independence. They felt very aggrieved when in the aftermath of the war this was not even a consideration.
This, also, is a consequences of war – when nations fight, and territory becomes re-ordered, the concerns of smaller bodies become lost, destroyed. No matter what they gave.

Wiki tells us:
In 1944 during World War II the Battle of Kohima along with the simultaneous Battle of Imphal was the turning point in the Burma Campaign. For the first time in South-East Asia, the Japanese lost the initiative to the Allies, which the Allies then retained, until the end of the war. This hand-to-hand battle and slaughter, prevented the Japanese from gaining a base from which they might have easily gone into the plains of India.

Kohima has a large cemetery known as the War Cemetery in Kohima for the Allied war dead maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The cemetery lies on the slopes of Garrison Hill, in what was once the Deputy Commissioner’s tennis court which was the scene of intense fighting, the Battle of the Tennis Court
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohima