Here is a repository of the texts of my together with some readings of them.
The essays were broadcast by WXXI 91.5 Classical of Rochester, NY on Salmagundy each Saturday at 9:35am Eastern Time, from the beginning of time (1985) till May 2009 when Entropa (evil Goddess of Change-for-the-Worse-or-Possibly-the-Worst) troubled the minds of the WXXIites and they retired Simon and Salmagundy, and Rochester went into a terminal decline---for ever.
But I do continue on that brilliant bastion of all that's good and kultured, on WCLV's syndicated Weekend Radio on many (mainly NPRish) stations traditionally on the first and third weekends of the month, though your weekendage may vary, (these are archived for a couple of months).
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|Speaking as a Br who Exited much, much more than fifteen years ago I suppose I have absolutely no right to comment on the horribly portmanteaued ‘Brexit', so here goes…|
|With all the media attention on Scotland’s wanting, for at least the last year or so to be “a nation once again” (though maybe that was Ireland?…) — but, but apart from that there’s all that nonsense from the SNP who want to be their own little Parti Quebequois in memory of the Auld Alliance, so just to be safe I’ve been embracing my Scottish side of late. |
My wife and I have even been going to the odd Caledonian event down here in Texas, that land of all things Scottish. The last one was, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed a Burns’ Nicht Supper celebrating Scotland’s national poet.
|As I'm writing this I don't know if Scotland has voted for independence or not, but you, lucky people, being up-when of me have all the facts—but it doesn't really matter what you know, or what happened, or how they voted, or indeed anything, because the floodgates are obviously swinging wide open (or whatever it is floodgates do) and this is merely one more tentative step (or one more demure hiccough) on a road that started way back around 1920 with a dose of un-Irishing and of late has accelerated, via some really rather irrelevant empire-sloughing, to our modern paroxysms of devolution. |
|I've just come back from England, where we went to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday.|
|Britons, especially the English, and even especially-er English men, love their tea and their beer. It's the closest they come to having a religion. |
But in America on the other hand we have traditionally, since our very beginning, nay even before our very beginning, had a totally different THING about tea, so that now-a-days all hot tea (or, more accurately, vaguely warmish tea) served in America tastes to this ex-Englishman exactly as though it came straight out of Boston Harbour.
Iced tea here is a bit better, just about drinkable, or rather it would be if they didn't flavour it with raspberries or fish giblets or whatever they do.
So that finally I am pushed, protesting, towards American beer, the only thing is that most American beer tastes as... as if it were pre-owned, probably by a little old lady who just used it for shopping.
Of course in some things the British are just as bad as you, but in their own way: English Cream Tea for example: tea, and scones and jam and thick, thick clotted cream and arteries to match—sort of cardiac arrest on a bun. And, sadly, the Pub, home to countless generations of English men, seems of late to be dwindling, with a terrifying percentage of them closing each year, in the face of unEnglishmanly reality shows on the telly and cheap booze in the supermarket. But even in these days of the apparent death throes of the pub, that's where the Briton shines and where we leave you guys in the dust, and talking of dust...
|I hate crowds, especially really excited crowds, not to mention the downright hysteria that so often surrounds them, so when I planned this year’s visit to the UK, I made a point of carefully avoiding the crowds and the excitement, not to mention the downright hysteria surrounding the upcoming London Olympics. Foolishly, however, I completely forgot to avoid the crowds and the excitement, not to mention the downright hysteria surrounding the Queen’s Jubilee! Completely missed the fact that my oh-so-cleverly chosen Olympics-bypassing visit would have slap-bang in its middle the entire nation going gaga for a week or more, congregating in vast excited, not to mention downright hysterical crowds, simply because the present Queen is still the present Queen.|
|We have, and I’m sure that they are all official, in strict calendar sequence Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, and we even have International Left-Handers’ Day in August, on the thirteenth, and then...then just to spoil my sequence. Then... then, though I believe less official, there is the American Pi Day which is also in March, and which does not (as I bet you were thinking) celebrate the movie, or the song, or indeed the pastry, but instead, being held on 3.14, celebrates the famous mathematical constant π of which that date, in American usage, is the first three digits: and I won’t embarrass you by adding that there’s also a Pi Approximation Day when, using the date expressed in the proper British way twenty-two slash seven, we can celebrate Pi rather more accurately.|
But now, at last, and to be a lot more rational than π day and to get us back on track as well, this April the twenty sixth at about about eleven fifteen a.m. we proudly introduce East Anglian History Hour when the whole nation will celebrate the many and great contributions people from my part of the British Isles made to America: not to mention to the World. And I won’t mention the World again.
|Not that I’m much interested in such things, being as I am totally out of touch with what’s going on in the world, nor indeed particularly interested in real life at all, but I noticed a headline the other weekend on the BBC site, from England, about some woman with excessive masses of hair, which she apparently makes amends for by having a total lack of moral compass, by the name of Rebekah Streams or Something who works or worked for that nice Mr Rapine Morlock’s News InterThingy, or the Naughty News of the Eaves, or possibly both, being arrested, arrested by what were referred to on the site as ‘hacking police’. It wasn’t the exact police species doing the arresting that arrested my attention so much as how the arresting was done that, in the words of the old song ‘really got me going’: as the site said ‘The 43-year-old was arrested by appointment on Sunday’. By appointment?? My mind just can’t handle it.|
[fade in harp music] I’m... I’m...
|Ben Nevis, at four thousand, four hundred and six feet, is reputed to be the tallest mountain in the whole of Britain (by the English, the Welsh and probably a small majority of the Northern Irish) and, for some unfathomable reason, merely the tallest mountain in the whole of Scotland by the Scots. I say ‘reputed’ because I cannot vouchsafe to you it’s height from personal experience, save that the foothills are quite altitudinous. They are also quite sheepish. In fact they are knee deep in Scottish sheep with that typically Scottish ‘Let’s get the bastards’ evil gleam in their eyes. Utterly terrifyingly sheep-encrusted, and also really rainy. And somewhat cooler than one would hope.|
|Nothing to do with England’s performance in the World Cup, nor for that matter their lack of performance in the World Cup. No, no, it’s actually that in 2010 back home in England they are celebrating the sixteen-hundredth anniversary of the Ancient Romans leaving Britain, or rather the sixteen-hundredth anniversary of Flavius Honorius (IMP CÆS as they inscribed them back in those days) purportedly sending a letter telling the Britons (well at least some of the poor buggers) that, as far as he was concerned, as far as their defence was concerned, from then on it was going to be their own concern. They were on their own. Poor abandoned Britannia! But even more ominously and importantly and on-their-own-ishly, it’s also the thirtieth anniversary of that same poor Britain being abandoned by me!|