Category Archive 'The Right Stuff'
24 Oct 2020
No social distancing, no masks, no screens, no kids, no women, just well dressed men having a drink and a smoke after work.
A perfect Friday night.
18 Oct 2020
(click on image for link to larger version and sales web-site.)
I like just about all of them.
10 Oct 2020
For once the Times outdoes the Telegraph in its obituary of a colorful British figure.
If you have to die, it’s nice to have so as to be memorialized like Peregrine Worsthorne.
It was said of Sir Peregrine Worsthorne that he wrote as he dressed, with style and flamboyance. His bow ties, spongebag trousers and Leander socks were combined with wavy, collar-length silver hair, giving him the appearance of an aesthete on his way to the Athenaeum Club. To complement his exhibitionist tendencies he had an amused, fluting voice and, unusually for a High Tory Fleet Street editor, he was considered something of a flaneur and a bohemian. He was also a man whose engaging recklessness was, on occasion, his undoing.
As a commentator he could be salty, moralistic, reactionary, contrary and even, on occasion, self-contradictory, but he was rarely, if ever, boring or predictable. On Desert Island Discs in 1992 he chose as his luxury item a lifetime supply of LSD. His columns, meanwhile, were less formal argument than a series of assertions, often enough strikingly original and elegantly expressed, but sometimes merely silly, or so outrageous as to disturb even his most unflinchingly right-wing readers. For much of his career he longed for an editorial chair as well as a polemicistâ€™s pulpit; when it finally came, its sweets were short-lived. …
In 1961 he became deputy editor of the newly founded Sunday Telegraph, a post he was to hold for the next 15 years (complementing Welch, who was deputy editor of the daily from 1964 to 1980). He was then associate editor until 1986.
He wrote in the first edition of the paper and, in some ways, thereafter became its personification. The values he was to espouse in his political columns for the next 36 years were not for the faint of heart: they were to include an argument that voluntary repatriation was the answer to Britainâ€™s supposed immigration problems, for example, as well as a vigorous defence of Ian Smithâ€™s white minority government in Rhodesia. His views on homosexualists, as he was wont to call them, could seem especially unpalatable. Despite his experience at his public school, Worsthorne castigated Roy Jenkins in one editorial for his tolerance of â€œqueersâ€.
It became clear that the editorship he was waiting for would never come as long as Lord Hartwell was proprietor. Hartwell admired Worsthorne as a controversialist but did not think him staid or reliable enough for the editorial chair. There was some evidence for this view, in his professional and also in his private life. He had married in 1950 Claudia Bertrand de Colasse, a Frenchwoman previously married to an RAF officer. Yet, as he described with remarkable candour in his 1993 autobiography Tricks of Memory, it was far from a conventional marriage, and he was far from a faithful husband, with many liaisons, prolonged or casual. They had a daughter, Dominique, who is married to the potter Jim Keeling.
The Worsthornes mixed in a notably raffish set, including the journalists Henry Fairlie, George Gale and Paul Johnson and the dons Michael Oakeshott and Maurice Cowling. By some of these friendsâ€™ standards Worsthorne was temperate â€” an early bout of jaundice made heavy drinking impossible â€” but his life was chequered with comically untoward incidents. Over dinner in a Brighton restaurant, he and the late Vanessa Lawson, then the wife of Nigel Lawson, later of AJ Ayer, decided to exchange shirt and blouse while sitting at their table, an episode reported back to the proprietor by a mauvaise langue among his colleagues.
When appearing on an early-evening programme in 1973 to discuss the abrupt resignation of Lord Lambton from the government, he became the second man, after Kenneth Tynan, to use a well-known monosyllable on television, lightly remarking that the public did not â€œgive a f***â€ about the affair. This brought a period of suspension from the paperâ€™s pages.
In print, Worsthorne was almost as unpredictable. He was no dialectician, no scholar, indeed, and (despite his aspirations) no intellectual. His attempts at serious political thought were repetitious but persuasive even at column length, still more so in his one book in this vein, The Socialist Myth (1971).
But he was a wonderfully readable columnist, with a feline knack of puncturing specious arguments, of seeing through humbug with a single memorable phrase. He once argued ingeniously that the advertisements in newspapers were in a sense more truthful than the news pages. In the news, houses burn down and aircraft crash, killing and bereaving. In the ads, families live securely and happily in their homes, while flights land on time reuniting loved ones, a far more accurate reflection of everyday life. And it was Worsthorne who described the mood of the Thatcherite 1980s as â€œbourgeois triumphalismâ€, a phrase which has lasted longer than most coined by the left.
His leaders apart, Worsthorne was at his best writing Spectator diaries where he could be as irresponsible and malicious as he chose.
19 Sep 2020
HT: Ann Althouse via Bird Dog via Karen L. Myers.
15 Sep 2020
John Burns became a very early photographic subject after the battle.
[I]magine a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War fighting in the Civil War. That’s a span of more than 60 yearsâ€”much longer than the 24 years that separated the beginning of WWII and the Vietnam War. Then again, during the 20th century, pivotal battles weren’t literally in our front yard.
An average 69-year-old might be happy to ride out his golden years from a rocking chair.
But not John Burns.
He fought in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War and even tried to work as a supply driver for the Union Army but was sent back to his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
He wasn’t too happy to be excluded from the war.
See, Burns already lived nearly twice as long as the average American of the time and was ready to do more for his country. But Gettysburg was much further north than the Confederates could ever attackâ€”or so he thought.
Burns was considered “eccentric” by the rest of the town. That’s what happens when you’re fighting wars for longer than most people at the time spent in school.
When Confederate Gen. Jubal Early captured the town, Burns was the constable and was jailed for trying to interfere with Confederate military operations. When the Confederates were pushed out of Gettysburg by the Union, Burns began arresting Confederate stragglers for treason.
His contributions to the Union didn’t end there.
On the morning of July 1, 1863, Burns watched as the Battle of Gettysburg began to unfold near his home. Like a true American hero, he picked up his rifleâ€”a flintlock musket, which required the use of a powder hornâ€”and calmly walked over to the battle to see how he could help.
He “borrowed” a more modern musket (now a long-standing Army tradition) from a wounded Union soldier, picked up some cartridges, then walked over to the commander of the 150th Pennsylvania Infantry and asked to join the regiment.
This time, he wasn’t turned away, though the 150th Pennsylvania commanders did send Burns to Herbst Woods, away from where the officers believed the main area of fighting would be.
They were wrong.
Herbst Woods was the site of the first Confederate offensive of the battle. Burns, sharpshooting for the Iron Brigade, helped repel this offensive as part of a surprise counterattack.
John Burns was mocked by other troops for showing up to fight with his antiquated weapon and “swallowtail coat with brass buttons, yellow vest, and tall hat”. But when the bullets started to fly, he calmly took cover behind a tree and started to shoot back with his modern rifle.
He also fought alongside the 7th Wisconsin Infantry and then moved to support the 24th Michigan. He was wounded in the arm, legs, and chest and was left on the field when the Union forces had to fall back.
He ditched his rifle and buried his ammo and then passed out from blood loss. He tried to convince the Rebels he was an old man looking to find help for his wife, but accounts of how well that story worked vary. Anyone fighting in an army outside of a uniform could be executed, but the ruse must have worked on some levelâ€”he survived his wounds and lived for another nine years.
Burns was photographed (being a hero in the North), had a poem written about him by Brett Harte, and has his own monument on the battlefield.
06 Sep 2020
Jalopnik reports: Some unidentified gazillionaire ordered himself a special custom one-of-a-kind automobile from Aston Martin. It’s a V-12 with a manual transmission. Right on!
Naturally aspirated 7.3-liter V12 from the One-77, tuned by Cosworth to a claimed 836 brake horsepower and 599 lb-ft of torque.
Six-speed manual transmission made by Graziano (The UK division of axle authority Dana) with a â€œbespoke motorsports clutchâ€ that would probably cost more to replace than Iâ€™ve spent on car maintenance in my life so far.
380mm front, 360mm rear Brembo CMM-R carbon ceramic brakes.
Inboard springs and dampers from the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan.
Worked on by the team bringing the Valkyrie hypercar to life.
Finished in â€œPentland Greenâ€ and satin carbon fiber with a Forest Green interior sewn by fancy leather outfit Conker Bridge of Weir which used cashmere on the headliner.
Also: The solid walnut(!) dashboard is Crown cut, whatever that means, and matches the wood shift knob.
Special bespoke clutch ?!
Cashmere headliner ?!
23 Jul 2020
This football, supplied by Captain Wilfred Percy â€œBillieâ€ Nevill, was kicked over the top by Private A A Fursey, 6th Platoon, B company, 8th (Service) Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment from Carnoy trenches, Montauban, The Somme 1st July 1916.
In this week’s Spectator, Jeremy Clarke visits the WWI Somme Battlefield.
Phone calls aside, the only human contact I had on my ten-day Somme battlefield tour was with the lady who ran the bed and breakfast establishment. My bed was on the upper storey of a disused light railway station in a clearing in a beech wood. Madame lived with her husband in a modern bungalow 100 yards down the line, but came along each morning to cook my bacon and eggs. The greater part of her clientele consists of British Great War buffs. But Covid-19 had kept them away and I had the breakfast table, the old station and indeed the Somme battlefield entirely to myself.
The dining room was once the waiting room. In here the walls were decorated with trench maps and other Great War memorabilia, including a tribute to Captain Billie Nevill of the 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment, who famously led his men over the top on 1 July 1916 by drop-kicking a football into no manâ€™s land. Heâ€™d written on the football: â€˜The great European Cup-Tie final, East Surreys v Bavarians.â€™ Displayed on a stand was a punctured leather replica of this celebrated football.
[Actually, Captain Nevill Captain WP Nevill, “commanding “B” Company had purchased four footballs for his platoons to kick across No Man’s Land ‘subject to the proviso that proper formation and distance was not lost thereby’. Captain Nevill promised a reward to the first platoon to score a ‘goal’ in enemy trenches.]
After a careful study of the trench maps, one day I went and found the spot from which Captain Nevill had punted his football. Then I followed his path between the British and German front line trenches. The distance was about the same as three football pitches laid end to end. History records that the East Surreys gamely chased the football up the long uphill slope but were scythed down by a German machine gun on the left wing. Captain Nevill reached the German wire and was about to chuck a hand grenade when a late tackle in the form of a bullet to the head ended the match for him. Every morning he looked levelly out from his framed portrait and watched me eat my bacon and eggs off a plate decorated with a design of red poppies. The tablecloth was a pattern of red poppies. Madame invariably served breakfast wearing a diaphanous shawl hand-embroidered with poppies.
Captain Wilfrid “Billie” Percy Nevill Wilfred (14 July 1894 â€“ 1 July 1916).
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