St. George, and this blessed Plot, this Realm and even Music

DSC01205 Maldon St GeorgeThursday was the Queen’s 90th Birthday, of course, it’s also St George’s day, and in addition, four hundred years ago William Shakespeare died, for that matter, fifty-two years before that, also on the 23d, he was born.  So consider this a sampling.

We might as well start with World War Two, particularly since that has some of the best. This is from the Queen mother’s 90th birthday Royal Variety performance

 

 

Here’s a group of British male vocalists from the fifties. I obviously remember some of the songs but have no idea who the vocalists may be, not who made these hits in the States.

Then in the 60s, something remarkable happened.

and:

 

And even:

And:

 

In fact:


But there’s always been something else, as well: like a song that presaged a revolution

 

And patriotism

 

Of empire lost

 

and won

 

And love of country:

 

This one here:

The one that John of Gaunt said this about:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England

 

The Queen’s 90th Birthday

 

UntitledcgffI wanted to write another post on leadership today, so I did.

Today is Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday. Like the very luckily much younger (and far more beautiful) Laura says here, “she’s the only Queen of the United Kingdom, I’ve ever known”. And Britain and the Commonwealth, and yes, the United States, as well, is very lucky for that fact.

Like her mother, who I wrote about here, she has lived a life of duty; duty to her people, and to her God. She has lived it faithfully, far more than anybody else on the scene today, and the world is a far better place for her. Think about that, she has done her duty, every day, pretty much since the day her father became King, with the abdication of King Edward VIII. From being an ambulance driver (and mechanic) in the Second World War until today, she has never faltered, never flagged. How many of us will be able to look back and say that?

Her mother famously said, during the dark days of The Blitz, ” The children won’t go without me. I won’t leave the King. And the King will never leave.” And that is exactly how her daughter has lived her life. And we’re all much the better for it.

FILE - In this Saturday, June 13, 2015 file photo, Britain's Prince William holds his son Prince George, with Queen Elizabeth II, right, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales during the Trooping The Colour parade at Buckingham Palace, in London. Britain's Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, file)

FILE – In this Saturday, June 13, 2015, file photo, Britain’s Prince William holds his son, Prince George, with Queen Elizabeth II, right, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales during the Trooping The Colour parade at Buckingham Palace, in London. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth celebrates her 90th birthday on Thursday, April 21, 2016. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland, file)

I love the Queen. Like, I seriously love her. So far, I’ve narrowed it down to 60 reasons:

  1. She’s the only queen I’ve ever known.ca3d962ca934ade44e012b5822ec15c0
  2. She’s the only queen my parents have ever known.
  3. No one knows what’s in her handbag so she’s pretty much Mary Poppins.
  4. She got her training in statesmanship from Winston Churchill.
  5. She rocks the greatest hats.
  6. She still wears white gloves.
  7. Her grandson was lucky enough to marry Kate Middleton.
  8. She loves the Commonwealth, and puts up with the lot of us.
  9. Her hair looks like a giant diamond from a distance.
  10. She jumps out of aeroplanes.
  11. She’s the sexiest Bond girl ever.
  12. Her dad is Colin Firth.
  13. She was a car mechanic in the war.
  14. She fell in love with her future husband at the age of 13.
  15. She became queen while sleeping in a tree house in Africa.

Continue reading 60 Reasons I Love the Queen. (Sadly the link is no longer active)

And then the Queen also has let us know what wrong with the United States

Your Majesty, how do you run such an efficient government?
Are there any tips you can give me?”
“Well,” said the Queen,

“The most important thing is to surround yourself with intelligent people.”
Obama frowned, and then asked,

“But how do I know if the people around me are really intelligent?”
The Queen took a sip of champagne.

“Oh, that’s easy; you just ask them to answer an intelligent riddle, watch”
The Queen pushed a button on her intercom.
“Please send Tony Blair in here, would you?”
Tony Blair walked into the room and said,
“Yes, your Majesty?”

The Queen smiled and said,

“Answer me this please Tony.
Your mother and father have a child.
It is not your brother and it is not your sister.
Who is it?”
Without pausing for a moment, Tony Blair answered…

“That would be me.”
“Yes! Very good.” said the Queen.

Obama went back home to ask Joe Biden the same question.
“Joe, answer this for me.”

Continue reading The Queen’s Riddle.

My dearest friend, and editor, Jessica, has an excellent article today on All Along the Watchtower, about this wondrous anniversary today as well.

My Country Tis of Thee done Right

Long Live the Queen – God save the Queen!

 

Saturday Morning: 60s Music Style

It’s Saturday, so let’s relax. I ran across some of my old favorites, so I thought I’d share.

Of course we have to start with my first girl singer crush, Petula Clark. Some things never change in my favorites.

If you’re old enough I’ll bet you remember how our music came from all over the world, so we’ll jump from England to Australia.

The guys were one of my favorites for a while.

These guys I had breakfast with one night after the bar closed, ‘The Region’ was a good place to be.

And then, of course, there is my all time favorite piece of popular music.

Enjoy, and have a great day!!

Saturday, Finally

Seems like some weeks last a month doesn’t it. This one did around here. Besides that, I got to talking to my Hoosier buddy Lafayetteangel, who ran a lovely piece recalling some music from an earlier day. I haven’t done one in a long time, so let’s do it!:)

May as well start with my very favorite girl singer, ever.

A bit from the Rolling Stones

Some Kinks? Of course

For the Byrds!

Of course, we had our local bands, too. Like this one

Or this one

The greatest rock song ever

Truly, Those were the days.

Happy Saturday

Tongues of Fire on Idris Flaring

Practically Historical reminds us that last Friday was the 137th anniversary of the battle of Rork’s Drift. This was the occasion when the British fought against an attack from the Zulus in Natal. It was held by the B Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Foot, who became not long afterward the South Wales Borderers, and is now part of the Royal Welsh. On that day, 11 Victoria Crosses were earned, a level never surpassed in the British Army. It was immortalized in the film Zulu in 1964, which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/O6astUUUc4o, It’s pretty well up on my favorites list!

via Men of Harlech | Practically Historical.

The most famous part for many of us, is the regimental march of the 24th, the SWB, and the Royal Welsh. It is called Men of Harlech, and it celebrates the longest siege in British history, the seven-year siege of Harlech Castle between 1461 and 1468, commanded by Constable Dafydd ap Ieuan. This very moving version is by the band of the Royal Regiment of Wales, in the church at Rorke’s Drift on the 120th anniversary of the battle

I always like to note that it has a place in American history as well. It was heard during that bayonet charge at the 1st of Ia Drang, and again on 911, both times a Cornish variant being sung by Colonel Rick Rescorla, ret. of the 7th Cavalry, who was raised in Cornwall.

Since we’re doing the Welsh military today, not to mention Men of Harlech, it should be noted that Men of Harlech is also the slow march of the 1st the Queens Dragoon Guards, more commonly called the Welsh Cavalry, who returned recently from Germany, and are now stationed at Robertson Barracks, in Norfolk, and seem to like it, as they are training on their new Coyote wheeled armoured vehicles. There’s a video here, and I suspect my American readers will enjoy the Norfolk version of ‘coyote’ as well:)

Fairy Tales for adults

One of the songs that marks Christmas for me is ‘Fairy Tale of New York’, with the Pogues and the wonderful Kirsty MacColl; if I ever wanted to be anyone but me, it was Kirsty. I remember asking my daddy why he couldn’t marry her because she would make a good mum – he laughed and said ‘she’s already taken little one’; seemed a good idea to me – fathers, let the tiniest obstacle get in the way:)

It’s an odd Christmas song, but it is a powerful one, because, in part it reflects a version of the immigrant experience which fails to make it into the Hollywood version. The two characters are Irish immigrants, not too long out of the ‘awld country’ – he still says ‘happy Christmas babe’ (an American would surely say “merry Christmas”? She still uses the English vulgarity “happy Christmas my arse” rather than the American “ass”. Their dreams have soured – he’s in the drunk tank on Christmas Eve, and she hopes it is their last time. There is a sadness, the sadness that accompanies the death of any relationship. But is it dead? One of the reasons – apart from powerful lyrics and a great performance, it still works, is that like all good fiction, it doesn’t tell you what you’d like to know – it leaves loose ends and inferences you could read any way you liked.

So, when he says ‘I could have been someone’, she says cynically. ‘well so could anyone’, but his reply to her claim that he took her dreams away is heartbreaking in its vulnerability – ‘I kept them with me babe, I put them with my own, can’t make it on my own, built them round you’. What a world there is in all of that, of young love frustrated, of ambition broken by circumstances, but also of the hope that springs eternal in the human heart – and the American dream.

Isn’t that what America is really about? That vision, that idea? Has there ever been a country founded on an idea of hope? Has there ever been such a hodge-podge of immigrants all battling and hoping, some falling, some rising, but however low you fall, always with the hope of rising? Is that why so many now feel a sense of despair – as though those times are gone?

I’m only a Welsh girl living far away, and probably, like Shane MacGowan, with a vision of America shaped by the movies, but I’d like to think that, just like the couple in the song, the fairy tale has a happy ending – and, of course, if it isn’t a happy ending, it isn’t the end yet.

For Christians, we are all ‘someone’ – beloved of God, in whose image we are made, and there is, in that, a reassurance. It is no accident – I think – that it was Christians from the West who had the vision and courage to create a great nation out of the wilderness they encountered. The ‘Shining city of a hill’ was their inspiration – and remains one for many Americans – however much secularists try to replace that dream with their own fairytales.

Good music and poetry (and good lyrics are poetry) have the power to transform things and to take us places in our imagination – and here, in a few short verses, we can see something profound about the immigrant – and the American experience – encapsulated. Either that, or I just have a vivid imagination – either way – something to share with all you wonderful people here at this season.

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