Monday, December 20, 2010

Carrying on

I am happy to report that I have discovered another opportunity to use the word recusant. You may recall I learned the word doing research for the unfortunate Guy Fawkes incident. I feel if one doesn't use new words, one quickly forgets them. Unfortunately, recusant isn't a word often used in my country, since people here could care less about someone's religion. Couldn't care less, I mean. Unless they are Muslim, I guess, but that is quite another story.

Recusant, I'm sure you remember, means Roman Catholic. Well, actually it means refusing to be Church of England, but Catholic is the main alternate choice that used to piss off Henry VIII, good queen Bess, James six-one (or is it one-six?), et al. Et tu. Et eggs.

"What did you have for breakfast, Tommy?"

"Teacher, I et six eggs for breakfast."


"Maybe it WAS eight I et."


It all started when I was doing research on the Order of the Garter. I think that part started when I Googled the Princess Royal by mistake, and I'm not sure the connection. I am even less sure how that led to another opportunity to use recusant. Wait... now I remember. That Parker-Bowes fellow was Anne's first boyfriend.

It's all rather circular: sir Humphrey de Trafford, millionaire multimillionaire racehorse owner, who came by his fortune through sacrifice and hard work and not through being connected to the right people, had a daughter who was the mother of the aforementioned Andrew Parker-Bowes, the guy who had the brief "relationship" with the Princess Royal whose brother quite liked one Camilla Rosemary Shand (whom I refuse to call Rosie) who later became the Dutchess of Cornwall (unless you are of the Scottish persuasion, then she's the Dutchess of Rothesay.) Well, Andrew didn't marry Anne, whom he was dating, and neither did her brother marry Camilla, whom he was more than infatuated with, so the sordid story goes. No, indeed. Andrew married Camilla right out from under him. In a manner of speaking. Then, though Andrew did marry Camilla, he, Andrew, took up with one Rosemary Pitman, descendent of the famous inventor of the Pitman system of shorthand writing, Andrew seemingly having a weakness for women named Rosemary, while the aforementioned brother of the Princess Royal never really let his affection for the Andrew-wife Camilla stay what you would call unrequited, if you get my drift. Now, if this slippery hole is still not quite deep enough for you, let me mention also that the aforementioned inventor of the famous shorthand system was a brother-in-law to an uncle of Diana, Princess of Wales. My GOD do these people have no shame!

And yet, I find I have drifted somewhat off the point in my righteous indignation. The de Traffords (racehorse guy, and so forth) are notable historical RECUSANTS. That means Andrew, who actually presumably TOUCHED the Princess Royal, was a gol-derned Catholic, same as Guy Fawkes. So was Camilla. JesusJosephandMary. And Diana? Who knows. She learned shorthand and took up with a Muslim, but she wasn't reCUsant by a long shot.

Just don't get me wound up about Camilla's ancestor, a mistress of Edward VII. Circular indeed. I know you won't.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Day of Reconciliation

Today [December 16] is a public holiday in South Africa.

The Day of Reconciliation holiday came about in 1994 following the end of apartheid, and is intended to foster a spirt of reconciliation and national unity.

However, the date chosen comes from a much earlier event.

On December 16, in 1838, was fought the Battle of Blood River. On the bank of the Ncome River on that date, king Dingane, with an army of close to 15,000 men, attacked 470 Voortrekkers. The Voortrekkers, under the command of Andries Pretorius, of course had provoked the attack, though they hadn't counted on quite that large of an opposing army.

The Zulus attacked the Voortrekkers in waves, with only spears for weapons. The Dutch soldiers had muskets and cannon. By the end of the day, the river by the hippo pool had actually changed color.

In the ignoble (some say) carnage on that killing field, over 3000 Zulu warriors were slaughtered. The Trekkers had 3 slightly wounded, including Pretorius himself.

The Zulus lived to fight another day, and with much greater success.

Read more about the Battle of Blood River, its causes and its aftermath here.


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