I stand corrected on the English question–or do I after all? Earlier in the morning, I swear also a blood oath.


Prince William, Heir to the Throne of…

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred 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,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,

We thank Mr. Shakespeare for this part of his poem, taken from his Richard II, Act 2,and quoted words he attributes to John of Gaunt, he laying dying on a couch. Citation--Life and Death of King Richard II
Act II Scene 1: London: Ely House.

Prince William, now all grown up and  settled down and married to his Princess, Kate, a quietly pretty little thing, who in turn now carries William’s heir. The English love a bet and heavy wagers are there now placed as to if the heir be boy or girl.  We can offer no insight as to the baby, but we can say, with fair alacrity, that the heir will be of Viking blood.  How so, sir? Here so sir..


William I, usually known as William the Conqueror and sometimes as William the Bastard, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.  Normans, were themselves Norsemen, Vikings.

William was of Viking origin. Though he spoke a dialect of French and grew up in Normandy, a fiefdom loyal to the French Kingdom, he and other Normans descended from Scandinavian invaders. William’s great-great-great-grandfather, Rollo, pillaged northern France with fellow Viking raiders in the late ninth and early 10th centuries, eventually accepting his own territory, Normandy, named for the Norsemen, who controlled it, in exchange for peace.

The product of an affair between Robert I, Duke of Normandy, and a girl called Herleva, William was likely known to his contemporaries as William the Bastard for much of his life. His critics continued to use this crude moniker even after he defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings and earned an upgrade to William the Conqueror.

So, Sir, yes, Sir, the now Prince William’s quietly pretty little wife carries, beyond the scope of any bet, a Viking babe to later rule over us all.

This morning, I took an oath, swore my hand, to the girl I love, that for me Politics American, no more forever.  Why, sir?  Here, sir.  Attend, sir.  I have found to my horror that friends of mine take seriously the carnival of this city.  Very seriously. Fighting mad, seriously, sir.  At first I was disbelieving as, in the main, these men I hold dear are reasonably intelligent.

I have concluded that they mistake the carnival at Washington for something studious, serious and important because none of them hails from here.  They are, to a man, foreigners.

I, innocently, engage them in riposte on issues of Politics American.  I upon the, again innocent, supposition that we are all just having a laugh at the carnival.  Comes to me yesterday, these fellows in truth take this Merry Go Round seriously, and in dead earnest. So earnestly, that I can see their little blood vessels popping as they strain to write, oh so earnestly, back to my notes from ringside.

Nay, none for me of killing my own lads of migraines brought on, innocently, by me, in mistaking their earnestness for jest.

One of my more irritating vanities is to endlessly correct those who say that England is part of Europe.  To them, I say, patiently: England is an Island, my dears, Europe is a Continent.

Many, who mistake my merriment for pomposity find this history and geography lesson both annoying and dull-witted at one and the same time—a rather bad combination of negatives.

Having spent now 61 years gazing out, at Mr. Ferris’ wheel, loud and gaudy lights attending, of Washington, capital city of the Americans, I am slow to anger and even slower to be amazed or surprised.

Today, I find myself both amazed and surprised to know that I was wrong about this England=an island, Europe=a continent business.  I don’t know quite what  to say.  To how many do I owe a heart-felt and public apology?  Or do I in fact owe apology at all?

Initially today, it’s all been terribly confusing. But, I think I’ve got it sorted.  By, golly.

You, reader, be the judge, do.

Today, our little note comes to us, and none too soon enough, courtesy of a remarkable place called Culture Matters, in which, I unearth an article penned by a Mr. Richard Hill, him writing on the web site of Culture Matters and we are all here most thankful to Mr. Hill for his good efforts in helping us to sort things.

Culture Matters itself shoulders the Herculean task of sorting just how to properly address Cultural Awareness Training&Teaching Culture.  Heavens!!   Far, far, better them than we to shoulder such a heavy weight!

Our ante paste now served, chewed on and cleared, let us in, what is the peculiar vernacular, used as a Grace before Receiving, and habitually so, by the earnest men of American commerce?  Oh, yes—here ‘tis: “Let’s get on to the meat of the matter, John Daniel Begg!!”  Yes, Sir, of course Sir, right away, directly, Sir.

On to the meat we go!!

And, hey presto, meat ye shall have in God’s abundance.

In due deference to the terribly busy men of American commerce—just what are they so terribly busy doing we wonder—now that question is something to chew over–we begin here to quote directly from our first guest Mr. Richard Hill, him, in turn writing on the very serious space allotted to him for that purpose by our ranking quest, Culture Matters.

We now quote both guests directly, commencing until noted here by us cease quoting.

Is Britain Part of Europe?


A Historic Perspective to Start With

Well, 6,500 years ago it certainly was, thanks to a land bridge which linked it to the European Continent and allowed people to migrate along the Atlantic coast from the Iberian peninsula. This is reflected in recent research which indicates that, far from being an essentially Anglo-Saxon race, the English have a much stronger genetic relationship with the Basques!

The English are convinced that they are viscerally different from their Continental neighbours (NB: so far we have only talked about the English, while the terms ‘Britain’ and ‘British’ also include  the Scots, the Welsh and the Ulstermen, the people of northern Ireland. This distinction is an important one, because the others tend to indulge less in the sort of silliness that the English often, knowingly, practise).

They all owe their ingrained prejudices about the Continent to a variety of experiences that date back to at least the year 1066 (the only historical date the average Brit remembers). This was when the Normans invaded the island and introduced a class system: the Normans became the land-owning nobles and the Brits stayed the plebs.

The conflict between the Continental system of Roman Law and the grassroots British approach of Common Law has a lot to do with these prejudices. Within 50 years of the Norman invasion King Stephen, grandson of William the Conqueror, had his experts formalise the island’s laws on the strict understanding that they should exclude any influence from the more complex Roman Law.


The tendency of the British to mistrust Roman influence in both the legal and religious spheres – a mistrust now directed at Brussels as the home of the European institutions – is ingrained in British thinking. It has been reinforced by other major events such as, on the English side, the secession from the Church of Rome engineered by Henry VIII and, on the Continental side, by the radical rationalisation of public life under Napoleon.

Napoleon’s initiatives in efficiently organising a messy reality, by insisting for example that all traffic should keep to the right of the road – except Britain, even today – prompted the British historian Thomas Carlyle (who happened to be Scottish) to comment in his book The French Revolution 150 years ago: “Of the continental nuisance called ‘Bureaucracy’ I can see no risk or possibility in England. Democracy is hot enough here, fierce enough, it is perennial, universal, clearly invincible…”.


For the British, bureaucracy is a very dirty word, even if there is more of it at home – and often worse – than on the Continent. It helps explain one of the great British shibboleths: the sustained belief in the value of self-regulation, when time and again such attempts end in disaster: the Lloyds insurance exchange, the London stock exchange, and now the issue of regulation to curb media excesses. Avoid government intervention at all costs!


The British have always survived on myths. The most pernicious of them find expression internationally in a sense of feeling different from their European neighbours (partly justified!) and domestically in an awareness of class distinctions. Other key features include a love of tradition, a distaste for regulation, and the cult of the amateur…

Jane Kramer, perhaps the most perceptive transatlantic observer of the Old World, says this in her book, Europeans: “The English produced the most class-ridden society in Europe, and in some ways the most aggressively self-deluded – and for centuries managed to hold it together by pretending that responsible social cooperation was a natural expression of Englishness, rather than the protective accommodation of citizens to one another in a free country.”

Maintaining British myths has been one way of compensating for poor government. Those in power have often resorted to a blend of self-indulgence and schoolboy arrogance that prompted one British political commentator to describe them as “a distant, detested and self-interested class.”

Britain’s Referendum in 2017

Which brings us to the 2017 referendum proposed by Mr Cameron – a stratagem worthy of the British political tradition of double-talk. If that referendum were held today, the British public at large would certainly vote for withdrawal from the European Union, while the business community would not.

The Great British Public is not only uncomfortable with the Continental way of doing things differently, it is particularly ill-informed on the realities. The Europe that most Brits know is cut-price hotels and holiday villages on the Costa Blanca or weekend ‘blinders’ for the lads in Prague or Budapest.

So they are not likely to have much to help them arrive at a balanced judgment at the 2017 referendum… If it ever happens!

We now cease to quote both guests directly, commencing here, and we thank our guests very much indeed, too.

It’s all been a terribly busy day for all of us.  My lads in the morning coffee klatsch, so earnest and serious save for me.  Prince William himself and, busier yet, his quietly pretty, Princess Kate and her unborn Viking future King, who will rule over someday, all of us, of this earth.  Not forgetting for one minute the most useful toil of Mr. Hill and his Culture Matters governors.  My own silly self and, above all others, the girl I love, poor dear, to whom I swore a blood oath forsaking all of Politics American just this very morning, forever and ever..Amen.


John Daniel Begg

At Washington DC

Thursday, 7th March, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, 2013

2 thoughts on “I stand corrected on the English question–or do I after all? Earlier in the morning, I swear also a blood oath.

  1. William I was of Norse lineage. Today’s William hails from Hapsburg descent. A little knowledge of English history will fill the intervening centuries with many unrelated dynasties, so the connection between the eleventh and twenty-first century characters is wholly invalid. Shame, ’twas fun while it lasted…

    • What was fun while it lasted? Well, William current has some many different bloodlines, as do we all–that there is not much point to mentioning that–he has dutch blood, German, French, Spainish–the main point is that 1066 did in truth turn england around from a meaningless backwater and direct it towards empire–i’ve a great deal of knowledge of English history but i decided to take the viking angle here–it’s called literary license–i’m not a reporter–i’m a writer–creative–a storyteller–perhaps you are a reporter?

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