From Our Forebears

If you write historical fiction, this sort of stuff is great to encounter. It gets you thinking. How our world continues to evolve:

Screen capture of the Guardian.
Screen capture of the Guardian.

Objectively, that’s essentially true: our norms are “male.” However, it is also true that such is due to our social heritage. It hasn’t come about in an historical vacuum.

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Richard And Janet

Richard Montgomery was born in 1738 in County Dublin, British Ireland. He attended Trinity College, Dublin, for two years, until his father, insisting on a military career for him (as had been common for men in the family for generations before), bought him a commission in the army. (One did not achieve officer status in the British – or French or Spanish – army in that era unless one was both gentry and usually well-enough off to be able to “buy” an officer’s commission.) He became a junior officer in an Irish Regiment.

"General Richard Montgomery and the American Revolution: From Redcoat to Rebel," by Hal Shelton. [Photo by me, 2016.]
“General Richard Montgomery and the American Revolution: From Redcoat to Rebel,” by Hal Shelton. [Photo by me, 2016.]

He fought against the French in America between 1758-1763. After the end of that war, his unit was sent to the frontier (what is today Michigan), and on his way through the Hudson Valley in 1765 he briefly met his future wife, a just out of her teens Janet Livingston. It seemed a cordial encounter, with no romantic overtones.

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View Of “UK Resident Of American Origin”

As you may have heard, a man with a knife slashing at people killed sixty-four-year-old American Darlene Horton and injured half a dozen others in London’s Russell Square on Wednesday evening. If learned, as of this writing his motive has not yet been made public. (“Mental health” issues have been cited by police.) As to a description of him circulating in British media, including on the BBC, ITV news’s Charlene White took issue with it on Twitter:

Via Wikipedia, one uncovers that Ms. White was born in London. That same source also states her parents were “Black Carribean.” Given her tweeted reference to Jamaica, I will assume for discussion’s sake that means they were born there and moved here to the United Kingdom.

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Sophie Deserves A Mention, Too

I’ve got so much going on right now. My head’s spinning. To better explain what I mean, first here’s that excerpt again in case you missed it the other day:

Sneak Peek into  "Conventions." Click to expand.
Sneak Peek into “Conventions.” Click to expand.

I’ve got that French ship captain, who I’m finding is quite an interesting man as a write more of him. And of course there’s the “heroine” in that scene as well (but I don’t want to tell you yet who she is or what she’s doing where she is). That’s just for starters.

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Staying In The Past’s Present

One last major piece of work here in the new house. I decided to attack it first thing this morning. Yes, I managed to get a bathroom mirror and shelf affixed in the cloakroom:

Cloakroom mirror and shelf. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Cloakroom mirror and shelf. [Photo by me, 2016.]
I also managed to do it without “wrecking” the wall, which is no mean feat. Drilling into plaster walls is definitely not like tacking something up on a wood-walled American house. Whew.

Oh, and speaking of America, “he” is now unpacked in my new office and watching me:

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Freedom Of Speech, Until…

You never know who is reading you. Something I wrote about the Catskills a couple of years back attracted a response from a Turkish woman. She wrote to me that she knew the area well: she had attended (of all places) the State University of New York at Binghamton!

We had a laugh. She had also left the US recently and was living once again in Istanbul, but remained interested in south-central New York state, where Binghamton is located, in particular. Occasionally, she’d ask me about the snow and frigid temperatures – she didn’t miss either in Istanbul! she always said – and inquired harmlessly about other aspects of life thereabouts. She also knew I-84 pretty well, and we’d joked about that “endless” and “dull” highway.

Free Stock Photo: Flag of Turkey.
Free Stock Photo: Flag of Turkey.

We ended up following each other on Twitter. She tweeted mostly in Turkish, which left me mostly at a loss. But she did offer an occasional observation in English and/or a link to something in English; usually it was innocuous and apolitical. Often what she shared was humorous.

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Tell It To Elizabeth I

The contest to be Conservative party leader in the House of Commons, which almost assures succession currently to the prime ministership, has now come down to a choice between two women. So it is almost certain now that the United Kingdom will have its second woman in that highest government office. You may also have read about the debate in British media set off this weekend over comments made to The Times newspaper by one of them.

Both women are in their 50s. Andrea Leadsom, challenging presumed frontrunner Theresa May, stated to the paper that she, Leadsom, has “a very real stake” in the future of the country because she had children. (May and her husband did not.) Leadsom doesn’t attack May directly, but if you listen to the recording of her observations, Leadsom’s inference is plainly obvious: she holds that she’d be a better prime minister because she has had children:

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As Nationalist Walls Go Up Still Higher

This is quite a serious post. There is no levity in it. Based on what I’ve seen – we’ve all seen – in the last week and a half, I simply want to say this.

United Kingdom voters, as you probably know, voted on the 23rd of June by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the European Union.

That EU referendum, we all also know, has bitterly divided politics here in Britain.

It’s decidedly one thing flinging insults at total strangers you disagree with – “insane,” “idiots,” “racists,” “Hitler,” “old white trash” – on social media. But this? We’ve discovered friends of ours – she, a non-British EU national and staunch “Remainer,” married to him, a British national and vocal Brexit “Leave” supporter – are practically on the verge of divorce over the referendum’s outcome.

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“Land of lovely dames”

A bit more “history.” Please don’t run for cover. I think you’ll find this amusing – especially given this is 4th of July weekend in the U.S.:

Excerpt, from Kindle for iPad.
Excerpt, from Kindle for iPad.

That excerpt is from a recent biography. The first part is from a 1782 letter written by the subject while he was traveling; the second half is from an 1811 letter he also wrote. In 1782 the writer had made his way across Sweden (including Finland, which was part of Sweden then) while returning from Russia.

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Trapped In “Interesting Times”

I mentioned it yesterday. I’m sure you’ve heard in recent days about the June 23 referendum in which 52 percent of U.K. voters chose to withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union. It has been a controversial choice on those voters’ parts to say the least.

The British losing minority is furious. European Union officialdom is irate. European heads of government are – if not publicly, likely privately – angry. And it seems onlookers in much of the rest of the world are baffled.

The "Big Ben" clock at the Palace of Westminster, London. [Photo by me, 1996.]
The “Big Ben” clock at the Palace of Westminster, London. [Photo by me, 1996.]
A majority of its voters having made their wish known, the United Kingdom is, for the moment, essentially “a pariah state.” This is now “the new normal.” It will likely last for some time to come.

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