Friday, August 05, 2005

Holiday ....

We've booked a cottage for a week in the idyllic Welsh village of Pant-y-liner. Unless there's an internet caff nearby (or I get to see my Steiner school mates in Presceli), blogging will be non-existent.

Meanwhile, the Dumb One indulges in a bit of historical speculation. One of the factors in the use of the atomic bombs 60 years ago was the fanatical resistance of the Japanese. Military planners estimated that a full-scale invasion of the mainland would cause a million Allied deaths, let alone civilian casualties. So they used the atomic bomb (an earlier incendiary raid on Tokyo in March 1945 caused more casualties than either Hiroshima or Nakasaki).

Imagine that the US had forsworn the use of the bomb, and fought a bloody battle across both islands, leaving Japan with no towns or cities and five or ten million casualties. What would the Guardian say about this sixty years later ?

Find out.

And finally ... via Harry Hutton, a new literary discovery - James McIntyre, a Victorian Scot whose poems are stranger than the great McGonagall's, being mostly about giant cheeses. Which, apparently, are best made in Oxfordshire.

Fertile Lands and Mammoth Cheese

In barren district you may meet
Small fertile spot doth grow fine wheat,
There you may find the choicest fruits,
And great, round, smooth and solid roots.

But in conditions such as these
You cannot make a mammoth cheese,
Which will weigh eight thousand pounds,
But where large fertile farms abounds.

Big cheese is synonymous name,
With the fertile district of the Thame,
Here dairy system's understood,
And they are made both large and good.

Prophecy of a Ten Ton Cheese

(In presenting this delicate, dainty morsel to the imagination of the people, I believed that it could be realized. I viewed the machine that turned and raised the mamoth cheese, and saw the powerful machine invented by James Ireland at the West Oxford companies factory to turn the great and fine cheese he was making there. This company with but little assistance could produce a ten ton cheese.)

Who hath prophetic vision sees
In future times a ten ton cheese,
Several companies could join
To furnish curd for great combine
More honor far than making gun
Of mighty size and many a ton.

Machine it could be made with ease
That could turn this monster cheese,
The greatest honour to our land
Would be this orb of finest brand,
Three hundred curd they would need squeeze
For to make this mammoth cheese.

So British lands could confederate
Three hundred provinces in one state,
When all in harmony agrees
To be pressed in one like this cheese,
Then one skillful hand could acquire
Power to move British empire.

But various curds must be combined
And each factory their curd must grind,
To blend harmonious in one
This great cheese of mighty span,
And uniform in quality
A glorious reality.

But it will need a powerful press
This cheese queen to caress,
And a large extent of charms
Hoop will encircle in its arms,
And we do not now despair,
But we shall see it at world's fair.

And view the people all agog, so
Excited o'er it in Chicago,
To seek fresh conquests queen of cheese
She may sail across the seas,
Where she would meet reception grand
From the warm hearts in old England.


Anonymous said...

Actually, that's West Oxford in Canada, rather than the city of dreaming spires. Though born in Scotland, McIntyre crossed the Atlantic long before the muse struck. I don't think he can claim McGonagall's "worst poet" crown, but he certainly gives new meaning to the term "cheesy". There's more McIntyre goodness at

Thanks for the link, by the way.

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