Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grin and Bear it

The last fortnight or so, nice to have the Guardian's Pass notes back again. Now up to no. 2,656, and celebrating a new Winnie-the-Pooh story by David Benedictus, with illustrations by Mark Burgess.

The piece compares Burgess's efforts with the originals and contrasts them with Disney's parodies:
You could argue that Mark Burgess's drawings for the new Pooh book represent the closest thing to the truth, since they're a) not Disney, b) in colour, and c) not vomit-yellow and old.
Years back, as a reward for enduring MoMA, the aforementioned pert young piece (then younger, perter, but still a piece of work) was taken across 53rd to see Mary Poppins's umbrella and fulfil a promised engagement with five VIPs. Explanation follows:
These toys made a tour of the United States in 1947. Milne provided a 'birth certificate' to travel with the toys. Dutton Publishing, Milne's American publisher, insured the toys for $50,000, a vast amount of money in those days. They toured the U.S. for about ten years and ended up in the offices of Dutton. Dutton was able to convince Milne to let the toys remain in America, where they remained here until 1969. At this time, they made a short trip to England (flying as VIPs in a Concorde) for a Shepard exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

For many years, the original Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga and Eeyore were lovingly cared for by Elliott Graham at the offices of E.P. Dutton in New York. After reading a newspaper article reporting that Dutton had taken possession of the 'stuffed animals,' Elliott applied for and was given a job at the publisher, where he quickly became the official guardian to Pooh and his companions. On September 11th, 1987 the toys found a new home at the Central Children's Room at the Donnel Center, a branch of the New York City Library, where they are on display in a large glass case inside a room with a viewing window. The toys have been left uncleaned and unmended and look as if they are awaiting the return of Christopher Robin.
There then followed a moment of parental pride.

Unbidden, the pert young piece signed the visitors' book, with the addition:
Repatriate the Hundred Wood Five! Now!
In doing so, she was pre-empting a similar move:
Gwyneth Dunwoody, a British Member of Parliament, has started a campaign to bring back the original stuffed animals of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and Kanga to England. These toys, originally belonging to Christopher Robin, were donated in 1987 by E.P. Dutton to the Central Children's Room at the Donnel Center, a branch of the New York City Library, where they are on display in a large glass case. Gwyneth Dunwoody visited the toys recently and concluded: "They look very unhappy. And that doesn't surprise me, if you realize they are captured all those years. They're a part of British inheritance and they want to come home!" Dunwoody will request the House of Commons to proceed a request of repatriation.
The doughty Dunwoody received a dusty response:
Rudolph Giuliani, Mayor of New York, is prepared to 'risk a war' with the British to keep the toys in the Library at West 53rd Street. "Like millions of other immigrants, Winnie the Pooh and his friends came to America to start a new life. They're a good example of a successful immigration".
To think we Brits then gave Hizzoner an honorary knighthood. Sphere: Related Content
Athletic Dysfunctions

Today's New York Times:

Dementia Risk Seen in Players in N.F.L. Study

A study commissioned by the National Football League reports that Alzheimer’s disease or similar memory-related diseases appear to have been diagnosed in the league’s former players vastly more often than in the national population — including a rate of 19 times the no rmal rate for men ages 30 through 49.
No prizes for noting the link between that news item and the picture, above right, and deducing where Malcolm is going here.

The minor thesis

This is a matter of continued dissension in the extended Redfellow clan.

Number one daughter, now residing in the Garden State (though well away from the poison belt) has taken to referring to "Soccer". Number three daughter (Saracens supporter) recognises just two variations of the ball game: football (round stuff) and rugby (prolate spheroids). As for Malcolm, he just drools and mutters along the lines of:
Football: a game for gentlemen, played by gurriers;
Rugger: a game for gurriers, played by gentlemen;
Gaelic: a game for gurriers played by gurriers.
A Malcolmian aside

In passing, it is curious that "gurrier", a word well-known in Dublin, is totally absent from the Oxford English Dictionary. One suggestion, from elsewhere, is that it is derived from the French "warrior" (guerrier).

Malcolm would venture a connection to the good English word "gurry", which could be cognate with "slurry". For example, just as Montezuma's Revenge (which term is in the OED, with a citation from the Church Times of 21 June 1996, locating its prevalence in ... the Kalahari) is a well-known ailment in central America, so Cromwell's troops in Ireland justly suffered from "the gurry".

Back on the pitch

Among the cis-Atlantic side of the Redfellow tribe, nobody has a clue about the rules of "American football", but suspects it is to proper football as Americano is to real Italian coffee.

The major thesis

Once again we have conclusive proof of the wit and wisdom of the late Lyndon Baines Johnson (obviously that does not extend to his involvement in South-East Asian affairs).

He, it was, who diagnosed the mental capacity of the (uniquely unelected) 38th President, and his successor but one:
Gerald Ford played too much football without his helmet on.
Apparently untrue (though the picture, right, seems to confirm the observation), but acute and mordant. As was LBJ's other remark, often bowdlerised:
Gerald couldn't fart and chew gum at the same time.
Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It'll come back to bite you ...

Malcolm admits his first reaction was a snort of amusement. There had to be someone with a wicked, warped, twisted, totally admirable sense of humour in the New York State prison service. The BBC website has this:
[Anyone interested will have to get the original via the hot-link just above. As Our American Counin, the estimable Zach, ponted out -- see comment below -- having a permanent loop is a pain in the arse. Normally, it hard work to install a BBC video-clip. This one went in like a greased eel. Too easily. Sorry, all.]
Prisoners in New York state high security jails are helping the community by raising puppies behind bars. The inmates are training the dogs for a number of law enforcement programmes ...So far, so chuckle-worthy. Almost apologetically the report adds that the incarcerated are not just compromising any easy return to their former careers:

The inmates are training the dogs for a number of law enforcement programmes, including bomb sniffing.

The Puppies Behind Bars scheme also provides animals to help soldiers who have been wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When Malcolm went to the source of the story, he found that Puppies Behind Bars worthy of far more attention that the BBC's brief coverage (including the fetching images). Behind the scheme is an inspirational lady, Gloria Gilbert Stoga, and a serious narrative.

Worth the effort. Worth support.

Sphere: Related Content
The second War of Irish Independence?

In the sense that the sky hasn't fallen on them yet again, and nobody has dumped them in a load of pig-slurry, the Fianna Fáil-led Irish government has had a good referendum campaign. In large part that's because the opposition parties, bar Sinn Féin, are on side.

So, it looks as if the Yes team will take this one. Perhaps even comfortably.

To add a bit of spice to the closing days, Brian Lenihan, the Minister for Finance, has gone ape. The story seems to go like this:

Declan Ganley took a trouncing in the Euro Elections in June. He then flounced out of politics:
Conceding defeat tonight, Mr Ganley said: “I will not be involved in the second Lisbon campaign, I’ve said that upfront. I’ve got to get back to work,” he said.

“I sought a democratic mandate and I didn’t get one, and that’s how democracy works. And as I said I can take no for an answer.”
It was, of course, merely
a pale imitation of Tricky Dicky Nixon circa 1962: which is irrelevant here, but always worth a gloating revisit:

Ah, the old ones are the best ones.

Then Ganley was back; and this time he was really mad:
“It’s anybody’s right and privilege to change their mind,” he said yesterday. The Yes side were asking the Irish people to change their mind on Lisbon. “I didn’t want to re-engage in this debate. It wasn’t something that I relished.”

But he continued: “This isn’t about me, I’m not important in this. This is about Ireland’s place in the European Union . . . it’s about my country, a country that I love and it’s about standing up for the truth when people are telling huge lies, and the truth does not require a mandate.”
Actually, there's a bit there that's debatable. Ganley's country, a country that he no longer loves, was the Hertfordshire Gaeltacht. His wealth came from trading in Russian aluminium and timber, with a side-line in emergency and military telecomms. He took one beating in the Albanian Ponzi-funds based on privatisations, and another when his Irish on-line trinkets business went belly-up.

Somehow, his vanity vehicle, Libertas, started to be underwritten by London hedge funds. Back to Brian Lehihan, who:
told a press conference in Dublin that “one of the main backers of Mr Declan Ganley, who has lately taken up the cudgels against Lisbon again, is a London-based hedge fund which could hardly be described as being interested in the economic wellbeing of this country.” In fact, “quite a number of these hedge funds have taken out specific bets” on the insolvency of Ireland , Mr Lenihan said.
Swift choking intake of breath: no Borough Treasurer, no Company CFO, and certainly no Minister of Finance, anywhere in the world, at any time lightly even whispers of possible insolvency. This is reaching for the big red nuke button.

What confirmation there is for Lenihan's blockbuster comes via the UK Electoral Commission's website. This showed Crispin Odey had divvied up £3,000 in cash and £13,964 otherwise to Libertas:
It also lists contributions to Libertas of £10,000 from an Adam Fleming and £25,000 from Richard Carss. Mr Carss is a director of Mauritius-based MCB Investment Management and a manager with London-based Genesis Investment Management.
Odey has previous political form:
Hedge-fund Boss Crispin Odey has threatened to move his firm out of Britain to avoid the 50% income-tax rate on high-earners...

“We are seriously considering leaving,” said Odey, who runs the £3 billion Odey Asset Management. “This government is not interested in keeping London alive as a financial centre. Hedge funds are not yet flying but they are fluttering. Everyone is thinking about leaving.”
There's also the curious business that:
he had added £28million to his personal wealth in a year that his £3billion fund management group had been among those short selling the stocks of failing banks - notably Bradford & Bingley.
It would, of course, be invidious to note that Odey's wife, another banker, just happened to have been on the board of Northern Rock, with -- doubtless -- insights into other boardrooms. Odey is co-treasurer of the Tory Party (which may be relevant here), and believes Britain is going to hell in a handcart:
Foreigners have been busy selling gilts and the Bank of England busy buying them. The answer is that if you carry on, that is called Zimbabwean and that is monetisation. Probably we are going to have a visit to the IMF.'
Obviously Mr OIdey reckons himself an authority above mere national governments.

Adam Fleming, also mentioned in that report, is a gold bug. He made his name with Fleming Family & Partners, and was up to his neck in South Aftrican Harmony Gold, conveniently bailing out shortly before Bernard Swanepoel hit the wall. Mr Fleming, though, sailed magnificently on, with a new venture, Wits Gold, and heavy investment in property in Johannesburg. A true son of the oul' sod.

There also seems to be a South African connection for Richard Carss, through MCB Investment Management, which operates out of Mauritius. Another Irish patriot, then.

One thing is clear: the Brits have been happily mucking around in the fray of the Irish Referendum. So let's hear it from Mr Nigel Farage of UKIP, and another made man (well, he made £2m over 10 years out of EU expenses, on his own admission) of the City of London mafia:
"We have really stirred things up with the leaflet delivered to every Irish home," he said.

"There were protests outside the venues I was speaking at when I was over there and people were getting very hot under the collar.

"But the EFD Group is really making inroads for the 'No' vote supporters and the result of the Irish referendum is certainly no foregone conclusion."
Now, why do some people not recognise the 1922 settlement?
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 28, 2009

The UK's coming iPhone mania

Today, officially, we had confirmed what had long been predestined, predicted and overdue. The O2 network's monopoly on the iPhone has been broken:
Orange's success in breaking into O2's exclusive deal to stock the iPhone is expected to lead to a Christmas price war with the cost of the Apple handset coming down for UK consumers. It is also likely to be available from at least one more mobile phone operator, with Vodafone also understood to be close to signing a deal with Apple, though it may not have the device in time for Christmas. Executives at Vodafone, which stocks the iPhone in just under a dozen countries, have long maintained that they would like to get their hands on it in the UK.
For the record, the current O2 pricing is:
The basic 8GB version of the handset currently costs £96.89 for a customer willing to pay £29.38 a month under an 18-month contract, but is free for anyone willing to spend £44.05 a month for the same period. The largest 32GB device is £274.23 at £29.38 a month over 18 months and free only for someone willing to pay £73.41 a month over two years. This makes the total cost of the phones between £625.73 and £792.90 for the basic phone over 18 months, and between £803.07 and £1,761.84 for the 32GB phone over 18 months.
Ouch! To help the odd transatlantic reader here, that means the top of the range 3GS costs a mere $2,800 over an eighteen month lock-in (which also denies a couple of iterations of up-grading).

More to the point, it seems that Orange and any other network buying in do so without Apple taking a share of the revenue.

What is happening, of course, is that the iPhone market has matured considerably. None of the competitors have managed to match the appeal and salescraft of Apple's prestige model. The constabularies of the UK would tell us that on thefts alone. As a result, the advertising for the iP{hone has changed: it no longer features the hardware, but it sells (very successfully) the associated applications.

So, chuck this into the admixture:
Apple's App Store is home to some 85,000 applications as of Monday, and the company claims that over two billion apps have been downloaded by iPhone and iPod touch users so far.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs commented "The rate of App Store downloads continues to accelerate with users downloading a staggering two billion apps in just over a year, including more than half a billion apps this quarter alone."

The App Store is Apple's online service where iPhone and iPod touch owners can find and download third party applications for their handheld. The store is home to games, productivity applications, social networking apps, business tools, and more.

Apple's App Store launched in July 2009 and had already seen 1.5 billion application downloads by its first anniversary only two months ago.
That's one entire story from, today.

If it were not for the Apple habit of over-pricing (to retain the prestige image), Steve Jobs could probably do a King C. Gillette (he's the one you didn't recognise at the head of the post), give away the iPhone and collect on the apps.

In passing, the iPhone is the one bit of Apple kit that Malcolm neither has nor covets. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 21, 2009

The conservative cri-de-coeur

Let's hear it from the Billy Bennett memorial choir, all sub-prime mortgagors and all almost gentlemen:
I was rich but I was honest,
Then she came from 'umble stock,
And her greedy heart was beating
Underneath her tattered frock.

So I thought that she was needy,
I knew not her base design,
So I lent a sub-prime mortgage
To stop her constant whine.

It's the same the whole world over,
It's the rich what gets the blame,
It's the poor what wants the credit,
Ain't it all a blooming shame?
Thenkin' yaow, ladeez and genelmen, thenk yaow. We'll try and get them back again later on. Meanwhile ... on with the show!

But, first to more serious things.

The sinking of John McCain

There's a certain inevitability about what comes next. Nearly a year on from the McCain car-crash (it was in some large part the fault of that nagging woman in the back-seat) and history starts to be re-written.

Surely John McCain knew he had undertaken mission impossible: it was his turn eight years before, when the Bushies stitched him up for the first time. The power of money, the ingrained Bushie lack of principle and Karl Rove -- those last two are political synonyms -- defeated him. In 2008 McCain was again trounced by the same man and the same factors: the dire Bush legacy would surely have been too much for any Republican.

So Dubya slinks off into the shades of history?

Naah! No political movement can afford that round their necks. So, two possibilities:

1. Let's expect a rehabilitation.

Tim Montgomerie's been at this lark for months. In his view, Dubya was Africa's saviour and a great philanthropist, particularly in regard to child-welfare around the world. That last one surfaced in ConHome in recent days; don't tell the family-planners, they'd split their condoms laughing. Anyway, just think of all the Iraqi and Afghan infants he saved for Jesus [concept © Abbot Arnaud Amaury, 22nd July, 1209].

2. A Stalinist air-brushing, perhaps?

That's what Ross Douthat (right) implies in an opinion piece in yesterday's New York Times, extrapolating from a digest article in GQ:
Adding insult to injury, the umpteenth insider look at Bush administration’s dysfunction was unveiled last week as well, courtesy of an obscure second-term speechwriter named Matt Latimer. (Next up: Bush’s White House chef tells all!) Latimer’s memoir, excerpted in GQ, offers grist for Bush-whackers of both parties. For liberals, there’s Dubya the incurious frat boy, flubbing policy details and cracking wise about Hillary Clinton’s posterior. For conservatives eager to prove that the most unpopular president in 50 years was never really one of them, there’s Bush the crypto-liberal, who dismisses the conservative movement and boasts that he personally “redefined the Republican Party.”

If there is life, breath, sanity and intellect left among conservative Republicans, Douthat is one of the vital organs. He is to "obscure second-term speechwriters" as Claude Monet to any Saturday dauber (all of whom are "impressionistic" at best). With Reihan Salam, formerly his colleague on Atlantic Monthly, he produced, last year, Grand New Party. The sub-title of that book spills most of the beans:
How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream
Douthat and Salam retread an old path:
The interests of the working class--the common man, the hardworking but unexceptional citizen--have been at the heart of every great American political movement. From Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Reagan, our most successful leaders have sought the democratization of wealth, competence, and social standing--not so that every American might be rich or famous, but so that we might all be independent and self-reliant and secure. In this sense, the American dream is ultimately a dream of home, of a place to call your own, earned and not inherited, and free from the petty tyrannies of landlords, bureaucrats, and bankers. It's a dream of a country in which ownership is available to everyone, provided that they are willing to work for it, rather than being handed out on the basis of wealth or caste, brains or beauty.
That provokes a couple of wry thoughts:
  • Doubhat's article, as we shall see, is about to nibble the mortgaging hand that fed just that property-owning dream.
  • It is curious how FDR is now being exhumed as the Right's holy relic and shibboleth. Time and again his name re-appears in conservative musings, inevitably in a tone between approval and adulation.
  • British Tories, or the few who can cope with anything more taxing than Cameron's dog-whistles, the Sun's grunted monosyllables and Iain Dale's over-simplifications, must be studying Douthat and Salam. Similar rhetoric, however, is denied them. The term "working-class" is being ruthlessly expunged from the contemporary British scene. That's not just the consequence of aspiration. It also reflects the post-industrial context of Britain (and the near-future for the United States): Thatcher effectively eliminated heavy industry and the class-loyalties and communities that went with it: she made "work", in the "working-class" sense, anathema to some, and merely a memory for others.
  • Douthat's and Salam's historical "analysis" (all of one paragraph in the opening chapter) is fatally flawed. The assumption is that American government has consistently been warm, cuddly and caring-sharing, while those snooty Europeans were oppressive and hostile:
The contrast with how Europe's governments treated the working class during the same period is instructive. Both continents extended the franchise, but Europe's nations did so out of fear ...
And, it seems, all other social benefits were opposed for similar reasons of social control:
The goal [of European régimes] was to create a docile working class, not an educated and ambitious one. America, in contrast, expanded schooling first and adopted social insurance programs only in the twentieth century. In each case, America's leaders wanted self-sufficiency and independence; Europe's wanted conformity and obedience.
Which, conveniently, ignores that, both sides of the Atlantic, basic rights had to be won -- at Peterloo via Dearborn to Selma and beyond -- with gutters running with working-class blood and guts. It also denies the status given by Scots Presbyterians to self-improvement: one of the prime motivators of schooling in colonial America.
Doubtat on Bush

A swift recursion to that New York Times article, and the original intended thrust of this entry, before Malcolm's usual over-complications, finds Douthat's best effort at rehabilitating Dubya going like this:

Bush-era bipartisanship did produce some defensible legislation (No Child Left Behind, for instance). But more often, it produced travesties like the failed attempt at “comprehensive” immigration reform, lobbyist feeding frenzies like the 2005 energy bill, and boondoggles like the Department of Homeland Security.

By contrast, Bush’s best initiatives often lacked a constituency outside the White House: His AIDS-in-Africa program; his insistence, vindicated by subsequent scientific breakthroughs, on seeking alternatives to embryo-destroying research; his failed second-term proposals for Social Security and tax reform.
Well, bless me:
  • Bone-headed blocking of bio-science was a good thing!
  • Dubya, single-handedly (there ought to be more of that around: there'd be less of an AIDS problem) saved a million in Africa!
  • Pumping out concessions to the mega-rich was a "tax-reform"!
So why not equally celebrate the environmental vision that thought global warming was a wimpy myth? That wanted drilling in the Alaskan reserve? That thought flogging off the forests and wildernesses to Big Business was as "green" as the dollars it would generate?

We can confidently expect all that, and more, to become the mantra of Dubya-deniers, Montgomerie's merry men and suchlike. Yet, were that quotation translated into the Saturday-afternoon performance of a Premier League striker, it would appear as seven attempts at goal, one almost on target, no score.

Douthat's "explanation" for Dubya's failure is equally intriguing. Try it:
it’s worth reassessing one of the major critiques of his presidency — that it was fatally insulated, by ideology and personality, from both the wisdom of the Washington elite and the desires of the broader public.

In reality, many of the Bush-era ventures that look worst in hindsight were either popular with the public at the time or blessed by the elite consensus. Voters liked the budget-busting tax cuts and entitlement expansions. The Iraq war’s cheering section included prominent Democrats and scores of liberal pundits. And save for a few prescient souls, everybody — right and left, on Wall Street and Main Street — was happy to board the real-estate express and ride it off an economic cliff.
At first taste there's a pleasant taste in that. What it means is the shambles of the Bush presidency was all our fault. We, the public, got it wrong. We misled the poor unfortunate Dubya into populist measures.

No: it doesn't work, does it? How can two hypothetical antinomies be reconciled? -- the disconnect of the Dubya government from its electorate versus unreasonable popular demands for sub-prime mortagages and federal bail-outs. No mention of Lehmann Brothers, which must count as the worst call in recent times.

So, welcome back the Billy Bennett memorial choir...

Led by their star soloist and Ricky Gervais lookalike, Mister Ross Gregory Dothat ...
Everybody knows me, Dr. Goosegrease, M.D.
All the best paying patients, I've got 'em.
Harley Street's my abode, No. 6 down the road,
No. 9 if you start from the bottom.

All your doctors are saps - all excepting me, p'raps,
And I speak without swank or bravado.
I've taken the place of the late Dr. Grace,
Doctor Crippen, and Doctor Barnardo ...

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not the Isle of Wight ferry * ...

This is not a pretty story. In a way, it's shocking.

It is not for dining-table conversation, though it came up (to coin a term) inconveniently (to coin another) before Malcolm sat down to one of those spag bols that the Lady in his life thinks suited to a Friday evening (preferably with a couple of bottles of Cabernet).

Even so ... on with the motley

Malcolm noticed the highlighted quotation on today's New York Times feed:
"Sometimes it smells like a barn coming out of the faucet." - LISA BARNARD, on contaminated water at her rural Wisconsin home.
The full story is on-line here.

For those who simply must take a short cut, the essential story concerns the pollution of the water supply by agri-business dairies.

OK, OK: you're all ahead of the game, now.

Nearby Lisa Barnard's home in Morrison, Wisconsin:
There are 41,000 dairy cows ... and they produce more than 260 million gallons of manure each year, much of which is spread on nearby grain fields. Other farmers receive fees to cover their land with slaughterhouse waste and treated sewage.
For Malcolm, though, the real choker was the location of Morrison, Wisconsin.

It is in Brown County.

* The headline is a typical Malcolmian esoteric reference. It might be beyond the frame of reference of those who did not win first prize in life's lottery (i.e born English, © Peter Ustinov).

The ferries between the Isle of Wight, the main port of which is Cowes, and the mainland were, in the good old days, owned and run by the Great Western Railway Company, whose livery was chocolate-and-cream. Hence this:
Q: What's brown, steaming and comes out of Cowes backwards?
A: The Isle of Wight ferry.
Boom! Boom!
Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homework for Mary

Up early (Robbie the painter due before 8 a.m.) and on with the morning news.

We were expecting it; but it still shocked: the death of Mary. In the end, it seems, the leukemia didn't get her: it was the side-effects of the chemotherapy.

Go to the trio's website for the official tributes. Tomorrow's press will carry more: indeed, even the staid, stodgy Torygraph website offers an obituary and, subsequently, has posted a timeline.

Perhaps, to aid the younger generation, the BBC now can be induced to dig out those original performances, and the documentary on the "folk revival":

Grossman's construct

The fourth original member of PP+M was Albert B. Grossman. Grossman saw the possibilities of commercializing "folk", opened up by the likes of Burl Ives, Harry Belafonte and the Kingston Trio.

This was the moment the baby-boomers hit town: college enrolments were booming -- a plurality of the white population in that key target age-group. This was their music. Joan Baez (another Grossman "asset") was already making a name. Bob Dylan (another one) was coming over the horizon. In creating PP+M Grossman inserted the tall, slender, photogenic blonde between two hirsute, but preppy, guitarists. Travis lived across Macdougal Street from Clarence Hood's Gaslight Cafe, a folk club where Noel [Paul] Stookey was the MC. Stookey, in his turn, had fallen in with the legendary Dave Van Ronk, the "Mayor of MacDougal Street", and traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic Martin. In another club, the Cafe Wha?, also on Macdougal Street, Grossman saw a singer-guitarist, Peter Yarrow, who had graduated from Cornell's psychology classes into a third-level course on English folksong and folklore (a.k.a. "Romp and Stomp"). Yarrow had adapted a lyric composed by Leonard Lipton, one his Cornell friends, and included it (and still does) in his regular songlists, a song everyone allegedly detested, a song no childhood should be without: Puff, the Magic Dragon.

Grossman now had his notion of a trio: an intellectual, a girl (to take the rôle patented by Ronnie Gilbert in The Weavers) and a humourist (as patented by Lou Gottlieb in The Limeliters). And then, after a successful preview when PP+M depped for solo Yarrow at Folk City, with supreme timing and placement, he launched them at the epicenter of cool that was Fred Weintraub's Bitter End in Greenwich Village.

On 29 January 1962, according to Billboard at the time, PP+M signed to the nascent Warner Bros (significantly not the "traditional folk music labels -- Vanguard or Folkways), for an advance of $30,000.

Grossman may have put together his idea of a pop-folk trio: what he bought were three hard-headed, highly-principled, committed liberals. The repertoire was collectively agreed: for example, when Stookey became a convinced Christian, Lemon Tree (their first single) was dropped. The first eponymous album [left] released on 1st March 1962, was the number 1 seller for seven weeks, and was in the charts for a total of 185 weeks. It has been calculated as the 36th top-seller of the all vinyl-mad 1960s.

Hammering out the message

If PP+M were meant to be a straight commercial act, they blew that with their follow-up single. The less-savvy college kids may not have noticed why: their elders certainly should have done.

Back in 1949 Pete Seeger and Lee Hays had come up with The Hammer Song for the "fellow-travelling" People's Songs. The target was the red-baiters, already developing into full MacCarthyites of the late 40s. It didn't help when the song was the cover for Sing Out! magazine's first edition [left]. Although the Weavers had recorded it, in 1949, for the minority Harmony label, it never appeared on any of the commercial recordings they did for Decca. Indeed, they were selective about when and where they performed it.

Largely because of PP+M, for whom it won a 1962 Grammy, If I Had a Hammer quickly became a musical cliché. Yet, as that Newport version above shows, PP+M made it, in live performance, a matter of anger and intent.

The March on Washington

Jumping over a fair bit of history, Blowin' in the Wind (apparently, PP+M's version remains the most commercially-successful of any Dylan song), Puff (which was quickly corrupted by the Vietnam War into one nick-name for a DC3 gunship), the 1963 Newport Festival, any of which could provide a blog entry, let's move on apace to the August, 1963, March on Washington, for which Yarrow was a co-organiser. The two songs the group sang were Hammer and Blowin' in the Wind. They would later also be alongside Martin Luther King at Selma; and remember him at the 1971 anti-war March:


This diatribe has gone on too long already.

A good woman, a true comrade has died. It would be gratifying, here, to throw in some palliative, to make a trite parallel between Garry Trudeau sending off Andy Lippincott to Pet Sounds:

and Mary Travis living to see a Black American President walk down the road, the white dove sleeping in the sand, the mountain washed to the sea ... all on just the spot they belted that song out in 1971 [see the YouTube video above].

And yet, she wouldn't see it that way. Her acerbic tongue (too long silenced on stage) would have snappily told us not to be ridiculous: this is just another cautious, underperforming President, failing to deliver on his mandate. Cue Noel Paul Stookey's tribute:
Witty, politically savvy, she was the master/mistress of the cutting exit line. Once I was attempting to defend Ronald Reagan's educational policy. She interrupted me with "Oh, for heaven's sake, do your homework", turned on her heel, and walked away. Need I say it turned out she was right?

Sphere: Related Content
Rites and wrongs revisited

An illustration to begin:

That's the frontispiece map from Toby Barnard's study of the Irish Protestants, 1649-1770.

Early this morning Malcolm was clambering up to the garret of Redfellow Hovel to locate that and another book: Micheál Ó Siochrú's God's Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland.

All because of mental fall-out from that previous posting about the Oliver family.

That had set Malcolm musing in general about the Anglo-Irish gentry of Munster. Here let us recall that axiom from the Irish Times correspondence column:
"Anglo-Irish" = a Prod on a horse.
By the mid-twentieth century this caste was under pressure and in terminal decline. Once-fine country houses slid into genteel decrepitude, echoing with educated accents, scented by rising damp and by ambling, shambling, flatulent old labradors. Now, many, too many mansions have been democratised into 4* hotels and country clubs.

In my end is my beginning

Most take that from East Coker. Old "Toilets" (schoolboy anagram) translated it from an embroidered motto, En ma Fin gît mon Commencement, by imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots, who in her turn took it from Guillaume de Machaut.

The end of all the Irish plantations was to make Ireland politically, religiously, economically, sociologically more like the rest of Britain. It went wrong because, although a new aristocracy could be newly-minted (as in seventeenth-century Munster) and a commercial class imported, there was no corresponding widespread "yeomanry".


The new landlords wanted tenant-farmers, but (excepting those Scots-Irish in eastern Ulster) were stuck with peasants from the dispossessed Irish Catholics. Short of extirpation of the natives, and an independent-minded and stroppy tenantry always querying the rents (neither of which could be seriously contemplated), the social cleavage was inevitable.

Another way of looking at that is the English yeoman's yearning for upward mobility (a characteristic exemplified, even satirised, by Henry V's speech before Agincourt): one price of which was commitment to the community (as Shakespeare's butcher father became town-councillor in Stratford). That was just the kind of civic involvement denied to Catholics. Significantly, a term for the Irish tenant-farmer was Anglicized, but with an acccompanying dimissive sneer -- "sculloge" (or, as the OED has it, "scullogue"):
farmer, or husbandman, or yet more properly, boors ... very crafty in all manner of bargaining, full of equivocations and mental reservations, especially in their dealings in fairs and markets, where, if lying and cheating were no sin, they make it their work to overreach anything they deal with.
That's from Barnard, in a footnote, from Observations made by a Mr Taafe in 1770.

When imperialist historians lament that Irish dependence on a single staple crop, the potato, predicated an Gorta Mór, they overlook the corollary: the Agricultural Revolution in England was not, could not be parallelled in Ireland. Malcolm's sixth-form history teacher would, at this juncture, dictate a page or three of notes on the iniquities of the Penal Laws on land-holding. He might not have felt the need to suggest another element in the equation. In both Britain and Ireland the gentry needed to purchase patronage for their younger sons in the church and the military. Irish land-values (or therefore rents) being so much lower than in England, for the Irish gentry to compete in this auction they needed to sweat their Irish tenants all the more.

Therein is the beginning of modern Irish history, with tensions that persist to the present day.

Is it all the curse of Cromwell?

Well, not entirely.

There was a strong Protestant presence in Munster long before then. Barnard (citing his own work and that of MacCarthy-Morrogh, quantifies it:
In 1641 there were an estimated 22,000; by 1660, perhaps 30,000. Even so, if the newcomers commandeered property, they remained in a numerical minority and as a result felt vulnerable. Unevenly spread across the province, they tended -- as elsewhere in Ireland -- to congregate in the lush valleys, around the coast and in the relatively safe boroughs and ports...

Outside Munster, only in Ulster and Dublin were the total and proportion of Protestants in the population greater...
Then, taking information from Dickson's essay in Bergeron & Cullen, Barnard gets ahead of himself (and of Malcolm's main point here):
[The population of] Cork ... numbered about 18,000 heads in 1706, around 37,570 by 1744, and approximately 55,640 in 1760. Of these between 33 and 40 per cent were Protestants.
Bob's your uncle!

Malcolm's earlier excursion around the Oliver family threw up a nexus of relationships.

Europe's royalty and Munster's gentry share one characteristic: both represent a very limited gene-puddle. The difference is that the former sank, drowned in ermine, while the latter still bubbles and froths with talent. Admittedly not all that talent was for good; but that's what brings Malcolm back seerially to his not-so-great and not-so-good.

Apart from adopting the surplice or the sword, there was a third way to social standing and security: the pursuit of a suitable heiress and marriage.

[À propos of which, Malcolm feels he must shortly -- in time, if not verbiage -- include the fate of Miss Frances Ingoldsby in his gallery of grotesques.]

Hence Munster's tight circle of related gentry. Alienation probably worked both ways: the Anglo-Irish may have been English to the Irish, but they were also Irish, and so not-quite-naice to the English. In addition, what "we have we hold", and marriage to a fellow-member of the Anglo-Irish gentry kept the land (and therefore the money) within the club. Moreover, there is happenstance: potential mates would meet through the shared interests of huntin', shootin' and socializin': not for nothing did the Dublin Horse Show gain and retain a reputation as the greatest cattle-show on earth.

And the club was an exclusive one.

Sir Richard Cox, writing in 1741 but describing 1687, suggested that Irish freeholders then totalled just 3,000. J.L.McCracken (in Moody & Vaughan) reckons the Protestant elite, even in the eighteenth century, numbered no more than 5,000.

The East Anglian connection

In these intermarriages, Malcolm noted how disproportionately these families had roots in East Anglia and the East Midlands.

One possible explanation is the origin of Cromwell's New Model Army. Peter Gaunt's book on The English Civil Wars has a series of maps, illustrating how the Parliamentary forces came to control England. The first in the sequence is shown, right.

That represents a time, after Edgehill and the first battle of Newbury, but before Marston Moor, when the Parliamentary forces were under severe Royalist pressure. It must, therefore, also show the areas from which the New Model Army recruited. The New Model Army's officers became Cromwell's captains in his Irish campaign; and were rewarded with Irish lands, especially in Munster. Quod erat demonstrandum.

An area of wilful ignorance?

Malcolm cannot suggest any particular study of this phenomenon, not even conclusive proof of his suggestion.

There may be good historical reasons.
It was not a topic on which to dwell. All those who gained from the Cromwellian landgrab had reasons for nervousness and an urgent need to come to terms with the Restoration. English popular sympathy (and the obverse antipathy to Irish Catholics) worked in their favour: the act of pardon of August 1660 specifically excluded Irish rebels along with the regicides who signed Charles I's death warrant (a topic which will provide Malcolm with another of his not-so-goods in due course).

The Gracious Declaration of November 1660 confirmed the ex-soldiers and adventurers in their Irish estates. Previous Catholic owners who could prove they had not collaborated with the rebels
were not reinstated, but compensated. In effect this mainly applied to the Catholic commercial class of the main towns in Munster, who found their new allocated land was out-of-town. This settlement became the new bench-mark for land title.

The Cromwellian arrivistes reinvented themselves, sidling, ingratiating and integrating themselves into the established class order. And Uncle Bill knew what that was all about:
'Tis a common proof,
That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend.
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 14, 2009

The not-so-good and the not-so-great, number 18: Eliza Gilbert

Malcolm had been relishing getting to this one.

Then, last Thursday, Frank McNally (who else?) in his Irishman's Diary, got there ahead.

Now, Frank's piece seems not to be on-line (or will have disappeared behind the subscription barrier), but his opening paragraph explains all:
Among Munich’s lesser-known tourist attractions is the Schloss Nymphenburg's "Gallery of Beauties": a collection of winsome female portraits commissioned by a 19th-century king of Bavaria, Ludwig I. The gallery thereby combines two of that king's main obsessions, women and the arts. And naturally it includes a picture of his greatest obsession: the Irish-born femme fatale, Eliza Gilbert, better known to the world as Lola Montez.
Miss Eliza Gilbert ...

It is generally agreed (the DNB has it vaguely, and most writers leave it at that) she was born in the County Sligo in 1821. To be more precise, it was at the Grange on February 17th. So let Malcolm start by backtracking a bit.

The 25th, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, arrived at Queenstown on Christmas Day, 1818: among them, Ensign Gilbert. He took up with an apprentice hat and dress-maker in Cork City: the teenage Eliza Oliver. Ahah! Malcolm hears you say: the link to the previous post! Indeed: it's good to see you are all paying attention. Miss Eliza Oliver was one of four children born of the long-term, but unsanctified connection of Charles Silver Oliver (whom we met before) and Mary Green.

Ensign Gilbert and Miss Oliver married on 29 April 1820: the bride was fifteen years old. Gilbert was then posted to Sligo, where his daughter was born; but her baptism was on 16 February 1823, at St Peter's in Liverpool. By then, the 25th were on the way to India, and the Gilberts with them. Soon after, Ensign Gilbert was dead, from Indian cholera, and his young widow quickly remarried: her new spouse, 45-year-old Lieutenant Pat Craigie.

The child Eliza, aged five, was quickly despatched home to her step-family in Montrose, where she showed early promise, offending her elders in kirk, and running naked down the street. The Craigies packed her off to a series of boarding-schools, all of which were severely taxed by Miss Gilbert. Eventually, aged sixteen, she eloped with Lieutenant Thomas James of the East India Company.

... Mrs Thomas James ...

They were married in Rathbeggan, Co Meath, where Thomas’s brother was the parson. Eliza, in her memoirs, described life in Meath as:
hunting, eating, hunting, tea... I wished for nothing more intensely than to be abducted once more, but this time not by a potential husband but by anything or anyone who would rescue me from this deadly monotony.
Lieutenant James had to return to Calcutta. He spent much of the voyage drinking porter, belching and snoring. On arrival in Calcutta he took up with another woman. Mrs James, perhaps none too distressed, pocketed all he had and promptly returned to England. The return trip was passed in the company of well-connected Lt. George Lennox, Aide-de-Camp to Governor General, Lord Elphinstone. Eliza was upwardly mobile, if from a horizontal position.

In London, she hit the stage running (or at least dancing) as:

... Donna Maria Dolores de Porris y Montez

Lords Malmesbury and Brougham, two conquests in many, prevailed upon Benjamin Lumley, the promoter at Her Majesty's Theatre; and on 3rd June 1843 she debuted there in a gala performance.

At first the critics fell for it. The Times approved her:
Spanish dance by a Spaniard, executed after the Spanish fashion.
The Evening Chronicle went further:
Her dancing is little more than a gesture and attitude, but every gesture and attitude seems to be the impulse of passion acting on the proud and haughty mind of a beautiful Spaniard; for she is exquisitely beautiful, in form and feature, realising the images called up by a perusal of Spanish romance. her dancing is what we have always understood Spanish dancing to be - a kind of monodrama.
"Lola", as she now became, represented herself as a betrayed refugee from Seville, in need of protectors, the richer, more grand and more generous the better. Already her strike-list included the son of Prime Minister Peel, Marius Petipa (creator of Swan Lake and The Nutcracker), the odd ambassador, and various literary and business types. She habitually carried a riding-whip to punish any disrespect and on one occasion she took a revolver in pursuit of a rapidly-departing lover who had failed to reach the mark.

Love for sale, and Europe at her feet

In St Petersburg, the Czar found a private audience with her worthy of a thousand roubles.

In Dresden she danced on the table before royalty and deposited the consommé into a ducal lap. The host, Franz Liszt, no laggardly lover himself, became so exhausted by her demands that he locked her in their hotel room, leaving a sum at the check-out to pay for the inevitable mayhem.

In Poland, the Viceroy offered her his country estate and a small mountain of diamonds. When she repulsed him (on grounds of age and appearance) he tried to terminate her engagements. She denounced him from the stage, thus fomenting a significant riot.

Old love, new love,
Any love but true love

If there was one in particular for her, she claimed it was Alexandre Dujarier. He was co-editor with Émile de Girardin of La Presse, the innovative Parisian journal which had fostered the careers of the likes of Balzac and Dumas (another of Lola's passing fancies). Not long after the liaison began, Dujarier was killed in a rigged duel. His opponent, Jean-Baptiste Rosemond de Beaupin de Beauvallon (phew!) was put on trial in Rouen. Dumas arrived to give evidence in an open carriage. The star of the show, mais naturellement, was Ms Montez. Dressed in showy widow's weeds, she described how Dujarier's corpse had been delivered to her in a carriage. Then she plucked from her bosom Dujarier's final note to her:
I am leaving to fight with pistols. This explains why I wanted to sleep alone and also why I didn't visit you this morning. I need all my self-possession and I must avoid all the emotions seeing you would have stirred. At ten o'clock it will all be over and I shall rush to embrace you, unless ...
Despite all, the verdict was not guilty.

The Countess of Landsfeld

Seven months later Lola had her greatest hit.

Her stage performance in Munich had been so execrable, the manager instantly terminated the engagement. Lola stamped off to complain to the highest authority: King Ludwig himself. This, let us be reminded, is not "Mad" King Ludwig II, the Swan King, but his grand-father (left).

Still in her stage costume, she forced her way in the King's private study, demanding "justice". Ludwig, apparently trying to defuse things, enquired whether her figure was a work of nature or a work of art. Lola snatched a pair of scissors off the King's desk, hacked her dress open to the waist, and instantly had his full attention.

Within a month of landing in Munich, Lola was on the royal pay-roll: 10,000 florins a year (4,000 more than the chief minister). Ludwig had built her a small palace (16,000 guildern), bought her a Parisian coach (3,300 francs), porcelain, furniture and much, much more. He impoverished his own family: the queen and his eight children survived on rye bread. Lola's allowance was doubled.

Lola effectively took over the government of Bavaria. Ludwig graced her with a title, Countess of Lansfeld. She took on the Jesuits of arch-Catholic Bavaria. She introduced the Napoleonic code of law. She needed armed protection. She recruited a student fraternity, the Allemania, as her private spy-ring, reporting gossip: their reward was naked parties in which she was paraded shoulder-high -- in one of these, her bearers cracked her skull against the chandelier and left her unconscious. None of this suppressed her continuing sexual adventures, including one with Ludwig's illegitimate 21-year-old son.

By 1847 the situation was about to boil over. Metternich tried to buy her off. Palmerston's nephew could report back to the Prime Minister that:
everyone is alarmed ... The exasperation of all clases is so great that the idea of dethroning the king is daily gaining ground.
On 9 February 1848 a riot, Metternich's fall-back ploy by employing rival student guilds, continued over some days; and ended with the looting of Lola's house. She was deported. Ludwig followed soon after: on 19th March, abdicating in favour of his son, but still loyal to his ever dear Lolitta.

In 1848, the Year of Revolution, Lola Montez had, single-handed, and uniquely, generated the overthrow of a leftist government by the militant right.

Frank McNally sums up the rest
The show had to go on, meanwhile, and Lola duly packaged the Bavarian chapter of her life-story into a stage play. She toured Europe and Australia and the US, a country she found more amenable to her large personality and in which she eventually settled.

Her life remained turbulent, however. When men were not being struck by her beauty, they were being struck by her in other ways. She was a serial assaulter: slapping, punching, kicking and sometimes resorting to other weapons as the mood took her.

When an Australian newspaper wrote about her critically on her tour there, she horsewhipped the editor.

Of her three marriages, the last two were bigamous and none was long-lasting. But then finally she did reform, spending the later part her career as a living morality tale, raising money for prostitutes charities, and going on lecture tours. Among her speaking engagements was one in Dublin's Rotunda. But soon afterwards she suffered a stroke and her highly eventful life ended in 1861, when she was not yet 39.
What that skims over is that Lola was a success to the end. Her stage play, Lola Montez in Bavaria, may have been lightweight, "with feeble gags thrown in"; but it continued to put bums on theatre seats across three continents.

One lover, who failed to provide satisfaction, went overboard mysteriously, off Fiji, with rumours of cannibalistic rituals.

She opened a saloon in the California gold-rush frontier: the floor-show was Lola at her most -- err ... -- unrestrained. Some letters, found after her death, imply it was all part of a plan to separate California from the Union as an independent -- wait for it! -- Lolaland. However, her Californian home at 48 Mill St, Grass Valley, CA, is preserved as State Historic Landmark 292 and a couple of lakes are named for her (right).

When she went on the lecture circuit she could command a better fee than even Dickens.

At the end she discovered religion, affecting Swedenborg sincerely but with no knowledge. On her death-bed she received a message from Ludwig, that it was:
a great consolation to hear her dying as a cristian [sic]. LM was a much distinguished lady.
And what's left?

Malcolm has singularly neglected one of the lady's conquests -- Harry Flashman:
one of the most remarkable women in my life—or in the life of anyone in the nineteenth century, for that matter. Who could have guessed then that Marie Elizabeth Rosanna James would turn a crowned head, rule a great kingdom, and leave a name to compare with Dubarry or Nell Gwynn? Well, she was Flashy's girl for a week, at least, which is something to boast of.
The rest, if not history, is Royal Flash, the second outing (published 1970, and as fresh as ever) of George Macdonald Fraser's anti-hero, and the most readable account anywhere of the Schleswig-Hostein Question. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The not-so-good and the not-so-great, number 17: Charles Silver Oliver

Who he? Malcolm hears you wonder.

Well, Malcolm was not going to start here. He intended to deal with Ms Eliza Gilbert.

Who she? Malcolm hears you wonder.

For that you needs wait for number 18 in this occasional series. Coming up.

The Olivers

In Blarney House hangs a portrait of Captain Robert Oliver (right). In 1649 he had been in Cromwell's army in Ireland. What he took, he kept.

In the County Limerick, take R512 south out of Kilmallock. After seven miles or so, with Seefin Mountain to the west, you pass through the small town of Castleoliver. There is no coincidence in the name. Oliver's first grant was all the land he could see from Seefin: that amounted to nigh on 2,000 acres, extending into the County Kerry. With a bit of manipulation, Oliver increased his holding to over 20,000 acres.

With the land came the need for respectability and a dynastic home.

By 1661 Oliver was MP for the County Limerick: the family would occupy that seat for 107 of the 140 years up to the Act of Union. He built himself Clonodfoy House (from Cloch an Otbhaidhigh, also rendered as Cloghanodfoy) nearby. In 1810, his descendant, Richard Oliver, inherited (by marriage) the Yorkshire estates and collieries of Sir Thomas Gascoigne. Clonodfoy was abandoned.

The Gascoigne Olivers later built themselves a new Castle Oliver, which still stands, (left). This grandiose Scottish baronial pleasure-dome has 41 bedrooms and the largest wine-cellar -- 50,000 bottles capacity -- in Ireland) . The architect was George Fowler Jones of York.

To satisfy the burgeoning ranks of genealogy freaks, the line of succession was:
  • The Cromwellian Captain and later MP, Robert Oliver, originally of Kent, married Bridget Ormsby, daughter of Andrew Ormsby of Partney. The Ormsbys were Lincolnshire gentry: a branch of the family did well out of the Elizabethan campaigns and occupations in Ireland. In the Earl of Orrery's State Papers we find letters from Richard and Bridget Oliver. In February 1665, it seems that Bridget had come into knowledge of a Puritan plot to restore a “a sober and painful ministry”. So Orrery was able to report back to London that Robert Oliver was "a stout and honest man”. Thus the Oliver estate was secured by the 1666 Act of Settlement.
  • Their child was Charles Oliver (right) of Cloghanodfoy, who was Sheriff of Limerick and died in April 1706. In 1670 he married Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir Percy Smyth of Ballynatra.
  • Next in line, child of Charles and Elizabeth, was Colonel Robert Oliver of Cloghanodfoy (b c1671, d 1738) who was another of the family's Members of Parliament. Robert Oliver married twice: his first wife in 1702 was Katherine Southwell, daughter of Sir Robert Southwell, the Principal Secretary for Ireland. A second wife was Susanna Knight. One of these marriages, nobody seems sure which, produced:
  • Robert Oliver, another of the hereditary MPs, who died in 1745. He married a Jane Silver, daughter of (no! not that one!) John Silver.
  • Their son was Silver Oliver, MP, who married Isabella Sarah Newman of Newbury, County Cork, in 1759; and ...
  • So we are back to Charles Silver Oliver, born 1763, educated at Eton, served in the 4th Horse and the 7th Dragoons. He married Maria Elizabeth, daughter of Abraham Morris of Dunkettle, County Cork. They produced four sons and three daughters (but -- be warned -- watch this space. Our lad was a goer). He was Sheriff of Limerick in 1791-2. He duly appointed himself Commander of the Kilfinane yeomanry between 1796 and 1807.
Which brings us to:

The legal murder of Patrick Wallis

Nerves were on edge in The Year of the French, 1798.

One March Sunday morning Oliver's yeoman posse went to hunt down the local United Irishman organiser. Wallis was a tenant-farmer, and 65 years of age. Warned of the raid, Wallis lit out for the hills.

The pursuers became, literally, bogged down: one, Michael Walsh, nearly drowned in the Red Bog. Eventually, Wallis was brought to bay and arrested by Roger Sheehy. The prisoner was incarcerated at Kilfinane.

When Wallis would not name others in United Irishmen group he was whipped at the tail of a cart through Kilfinane. When he still remained silent, he was treated to the same punishment through the cattle-fair of Ballinvreena. Returned to Kilfinane, Wallis was sentenced and hanged.

Charles Silver Oliver ordered his corpse be decapitated, and the head displayed on a stake above the market square of Kilfinane. So the dead man became a local legend as "Staker" Wallis.

That was not the end of the story of Patrick Wallis

The Freeman's Journal, 3rd April, 1800:


On Thursday night last, a number of rebels murdered two men of the name of Sheedy, father and son, near Kilfinan, in this county; they broke open the house, and shot the old man instantly, but the son contrived to get out; they pursued and overtook him, on which the murderers told him that he ran very well after Staker, (a rebel who the young man apprehended, and was executed two years ago at Castle Oliver) but he must now run a different course, on which they put an end to his existence. The unfortunate victims were remarkable for loyalty; the son, a very fine lad, and a member of Captain Oliver's corps of yeomanry.
Nor yet the end

To mark the bicentenary of "Staker" Wallis's execution and beheading, a memorial was put up in Kilfinane High Street. It consists of a stone head.

The remains of Charles Silver Oliver

Oliver sat in the last Irish House of Commons as MP for the family's rotten borough of Kilmallock. He was thereby complicit in the Act of Union.

His father, Silver Oliver, had represented County Limerick in two Westminster Parliaments. When the father died (in 1799) Oliver was possessed of the 20,000 acres and sought the reversion of the parliamentary seat. Because of gaining the interest of Lord Clare, Charles Silver Oliver elbowed aside his own brother-in-law, John Waller (and there's a family-name worth the study), to take the seat in 1802.

Pitt's ministry considered Oliver a supporter, but not a reliable one. Oliver voted with the Opposition (4 March 1803) to investigate the Prince Regent's expenses, which Dublin Castle noted "was not like a respectable country member". Apart from that he was a persistent absentee, failing to reply to what, in modern parliaments, would be seen as "whips".

After one Parliament Oliver left the Commons. He died in October 1817.

Even then, as the next instalment will show, we are not quite finished with Charles Silver Oliver.
Sphere: Related Content
Subscribe with Bloglines International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add to Technorati Favorites