Best of British
A collection of all things British, past and present.
Landmarks, actors, music,history, buildings, influential names, inventors and anything that takes my fancy.
Cabin Pressure. (BBC Radio 4)
" Set in a small airline business, Cabin Pressure is a comedy about the wing and a prayer world of a tiny, one-plane charter airline staffed by two pilots - one on his way down, and one who was never up to start with. Whether they’re flying squaddies to Hamburg, metal sheets to Mozambique, transporting lads on a stag night or shifting a panther for the odd oil sheik, no job is too small - but many jobs prove to be too difficult - for MJN Air!
The airline is run by forbidding divorcee Carolyn Knapp-Shappey who, at last, aged 64, is free of her awful husband, but pleasingly not free of his private jet. Her two pilots are the smooth, experienced and almost certainly fired-by-a-big-airline-for-all-round-naughtiness Douglas, and the struggling, almost competent sweaty young captain Martin. General help is provided by Carolyn’s dim-witted son Arthur….” http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/radio/cabin_pressure/
Episode Transcripts: http://www.cabinpressurefans.co.uk/cabin-pressure-episode-transcripts/
History of England, part five.
Norman Britain (1066 AD - 1154 AD)
"It all began with the death of Edward the Confessor, in January 1066. The Bayeux tapestry depicts Edward on his deathbed, offering the English crown to Harold, and this event is reflected in most of the chronicles of the time.
Edward’s corpse was eventually borne in state to his own new cathedral church at Westminster, and the tapestry shows Harold there, being offered the crown by the magnates of England, among whom must have been Edwin and Morcar.
Harold was crowned at Westminster Abbey by Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury and Archbishop Ealdred of York. It is significant that only the former is depicted (and actually named) on the Bayeux tapestry, as his appointment had never been recognised by the Pope, allowing the Norman propaganda machine to portray Harold’s coronation as illegal.
On the tapestry, the members of the congregation shown as witnessing the event are facing Harold, but their eyes are turned towards Halley’s Comet, which is depicted in the sky as a portent of the doom to come. Harold is seen receiving news of the Comet with fear in his eyes.
These bad omens for Harold were important to William of Normandy, who was set on claiming the English crown for himself - omens as important as the ‘promise’ of 1051 and the ‘oath’ of 1064. This was because, despite his pre-eminent position, he required the active co-operation of his nobles for the great venture he was planning - the venture to invade England and become the English king.
William could not just demand support from his nobles, he had to convince them of his case. He needed to show his followers that his claim was a lawful one, and that he had God on his side. So when he decided on invasion, he took elaborate measures to ensure he had strong support, and even sent an envoy to the Pope asking for his blessing….”
" In point of law the Norman conquest was supposed to have made no change in the government of England. The old institutions remained in force. The king ruled, taking counsel with his Witan. The freemen still assembled in the shire-moot and the hundred-moot for the conduct of local affairs. The ealdorman of early days, the earl, by his Latin title the comes, was still the chief man of his earldom, which was again reduced to the proportions of a shire. The king’s financial officer, shire-reeve, or sheriff was still the Crown’s principal agent in the shire, discharging also certain administrative functions which justified his Latin title of vice-comes.
The Crown still descended by election of the Witan from among the royal family, though it was a new dynasty which occupied that position, since throughout the eleventh century the exclusive title of the house of Wessex had been persistently ignored. Still as of old the freeman was bound at the summons of the sheriff to attend the gathering of the fyrd in arms, and still the thegn, the holder of comparatively extensive lands, was bound to bring to the held a following in due proportion. Still, as before, the soil was tilled on the Open Field System mainly by occupiers bound to render some sort of agricultural service to a large landholder to whose demesne or private holding their holdings were in some sort attached; and still for a time most of these occupiers were politically free men, though they did not hold their land by a free tenure….”
"….The Domesday Book is a great land survey from 1086, commissioned by William the Conqueror to assess the extent of the land and resources being owned in England at the time, and the extent of the taxes he could raise. The information collected was recorded by hand in two huge books, in the space of around a year. William died before it was fully completed.
It was written by an observer of the survey that “there was no single hide nor a yard of land, nor indeed one ox nor one cow nor one pig which was left out”. The grand and comprehensive scale on which the Domesday survey took place and the irreversible nature of the information collected led people to compare it to the Last Judgement, or ‘Doomsday’, described in the Bible, when the deeds of Christians written in the Book of Life were to be placed before God for judgement. This name was not adopted until the late 12th Century.
The Domesday Book provides extensive records of landholders, their tenants, the amount of land they owned, how many people occupied the land (villagers, smallholders, free men, slaves, etc.), the amounts of woodland, meadow, animals, fish and ploughs on the land (if there were any) and other resources, any buildings present (churches, castles, mills, salthouses, etc.), and the whole purpose of the survey - the value of the land and its assets, before the Norman Conquest, after it, and at the time of Domesday. Some entries also chronicle disputes over who held land, some mention customary dues that had to be paid to the king, and entries for major towns include records of traders and number of houses….” http://www.domesdaybook.co.uk/faqs.html#1
Vale of Glamorgan, Wales.
" The Vale of Glamorgan is a county borough in Wales; an exceptionally rich agricultural area, it lies in the southern part of Glamorgan, South Wales. It has a rugged coastline, but its rolling countryside is quite atypical of Wales as a whole.
The Vale also has many tourist attractions which attract many visitors every year, including Barry Island Pleasure Park, Vale of Glamorgan Railway, St Donat’s Castle, Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Cosmeston Medieval Village and many more. It is also the location of Atlantic College, one of the United World Colleges….” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vale_of_Glamorgan
See also; Vale of Glamorgan history. http://www.thevaleofglamorgan.com/history/
Shetland Islands, Scotland.
"Shetland, also called the Shetland Islands, is a subarctic archipelago of Scotland that lies north-east of mainland Britain.
The islands’ motto, which appears on the Council’s coat of arms, is Með lögum skal land byggja. This Icelandic phrase is taken from Njáls saga and means “By law shall the land be built up”.
The islands lie some 80 km (50 mi) to the northeast of Orkney and 280 km (170 mi) southeast of the Faroe Islands and form part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The total area is 1,468 km2 (567 sq mi) and the population totalled 23,167 in 2011. Comprising the Shetland constituency of the Scottish Parliament, Shetland is also one of the 32 council areas of Scotland; the islands’ administrative centre and only burgh is Lerwick.
The largest island, known simply as “Mainland”, has an area of 967 km2 (373 sq mi), making it the third-largest Scottish island and the fifth-largest of the British Isles. There are an additional 15 inhabited islands. The archipelago has an oceanic climate, a complex geology, a rugged coastline and many low, rolling hills.
Humans have lived there since the Mesolithic period, and the earliest written references to the islands date back to Roman times. The early historic period was dominated by Scandinavian influences, especially Norway, and the islands did not become part of Scotland until the 15th century. When Shetland became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, trade with northern Europe decreased. Fishing has continued to be an important aspect of the economy up to the present day. The discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s significantly boosted Shetland incomes, employment and public sector revenues.
The local way of life reflects the joint Norse and Scottish heritage including the Up Helly Aa fire festival, and a strong musical tradition, especially the traditional fiddle style. The islands have produced a variety of writers of prose and poetry, many of whom use the local Shetlandic dialect. There are numerous areas set aside to protect the local fauna and flora, including a number of important seabird nesting sites….”
See also; A Brief History Of Shetland. http://www.saxavord.com/history-of-shetland.php
King George V (1865 - 1936)
"George V embodied diligence and duty and sought to represent his subjects, rather than define government policy, as his predecessors Victoria and Edward had.
George was born on 3 June 1865 in London, the second son of the Prince of Wales. When George was 18 he went into the Royal Navy, but the death of his elder brother in 1892 meant he had to leave a career he enjoyed, as he was now heir to the throne. He married his elder brother’s fiancée, Princess Mary of Teck, and they had six children. In 1901, George’s father became king and in May 1910, George himself became king. His reign began amid a constitutional crisis over the government’s attempt to curb the power of the House of Lords. After the Liberal government obtained the king’s promise to create sufficient peers to overcome Conservative opposition in the Lords (and won a second election in 1910), the Parliament Bill was passed by the Lords in 1911 without a mass creation of peers. 1911 also saw George’s visit to India, the only king-emperor to make the journey.
Public respect for the king increased during World War One, when he made many visits to the front line, hospitals, factories and dockyards. In 1917 anti-German feeling led him to adopt the family name of Windsor, replacing the Germanic Saxe-Coburg-Gotha….”
Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland.