Victoria Day Doo Dah

by Nick Glossop on May 20, 201315 comments

Happy Victoria Day!

Victoria aged 4

(And to our readers outside Canada, psst, it’s Victoria Day) Queen Victoria: longest reigning British Monarch, first to be crowned Empress of India (a tad presumptuous), last of the House of Hanover, longest-lived British monarch until Elizabeth II recently surpassed her. Victoria’s reign saw 20 British governments come and go, and her name is evocative of the height of Empire, of the flowering of British sciences, letters and invention, of the Dickensian horrors of industrialization, and of class rigidity, pomposity and prudery. So enjoy the day, but keep your pleasures confined within the limits of British decency, and keep those suggestive table legs covered up.

…in nómine partridge and fillet of herring…

Vivian Stanshall as a Pied Piper in a Garret in the Palace

More doo dah after the break.

Cool Britannia ~ Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

Victoria ~ Hanson Brothers

Originally posted May 23, 2011


Vitruvius on May 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm. #

Queen Victoria’s role was, I think, important to that part of the evolution of civilization via which the more primal measurements of successful human accomplishment have slowly been supplanted by the sorts of human- serving global engineered infrastructure that I have previously mentioned here, and as explained in this Britain: Blood & Steel, II, & III episode of Engineering an Empire.

It is on this foundation of engineering accomplishments, from the Persia of 10,000 years ago, through to our modern global trans- national engineered utility infrastructure systems, that the high standards of our quality of life stand, for as Gary Numan noted: We Know You 😉

Nick Glossop on May 23, 2011 at 7:22 pm. #

I had thought to mention engineering and the Crystal Palace, but then I would have had to talk about Crimea also, for the sake of balance, while attempting to avoid the knotty issues of knitware in military history (did Lord Cardigan wear Raglan sleeves? That sort of thing) because inevitably, in this sort of open forum some Godwin autodidact will complain that the Chinese invented crochet 500 years prior to Marco Polo – as if that is somehow relevant to the price of firewood in the Winter of ’41 – I think you’ll agree that it isn’t – and even if that did not happen, I would have found myself, not with a shallow but handy pretext for posting some Bonzo Dog Band, but rather trying to fight my way through a sprawling free-association essay on Dostoevsky and the Great Potato Phantom. No good would have come of that, and besides, it’s a statutory holiday, don’t ya know. ;}

(Insert some clever remark associating Tennyson with Tubeway Army here.)

Matthew Payne on May 24, 2011 at 8:22 am. #

Hey, Nick, good post. I have a well-earned tribal contempt for Victoria, but those Victorians sure were bad-assed engineers (I would actually argue the engineering prowess began with the Georgians–Iron Bridge over the Severn, George Stephenson’s The Rocket, Symonton’s Charlotte Dundas, the various innovations that made the textile industry mechanical, etc., etc.). Actually, the Victorian age was a bunch of coasting after that burst of energy since technical innovative really moved to the US and Germany in electrical and chemical engineering.
Now, the British used that engineering in good ways (London sewer system), and bad (railroads and steamships to project imperial force [see Headrick’s Tools of Empire]).
I have to confess I am rather fond of a era and culture that helped produce Oscar Wilde and John Stuart Mill.

Matthew Payne on May 24, 2011 at 8:39 am. #

By the way, Mr. Vitruvius, I wonder if Nick has the same sense I do, having studied deeply of Soviet culture that one of the main tropes of Stalinist socialist realism, the hero-engineer, leaves me a bit cold. Engineers helped run the Gulags, too.

Vitruvius on May 24, 2011 at 5:20 pm. #

You’re asking me what sense he has? Nay, nay, Eeyore: if you wish to know that of Pooh you must ask him, not Tigger 😉

Matthew on May 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm. #

Hey, bub, I ain’t no Eeyore. And I know Tigger, Tigger was a friend of mine, you’re no Tigger.

Vitruvius on May 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm. #

Ok, so let me get this straight: you, not knowing me, get to declare that I’m no Tigger, but I, not knowing you, don’t get to declare that you’re an Eeyore? Perhaps that’s because you’ve studied deeply of Soviet culture? Well, then, if those are the rules ’round these parts, perhaps it’s past time I let a little fresh air into this Ashdown Forest, as I spend my some of my bouncing time here.

Look, Matthew, read your articles & comments here from an outsider’s perspective. You’re all like: oh woe, oh woe. Eeyore. Now compare me: I’m bouncing with optimism. Tigger. And since we both know Nick, and we don’t want to put him on the spot in this matter, I thought that lovable old Pooh-bear was a good choice for him in the metaphor.

One would have thought that a man of your learned discernment would have groked that.

Matthew on May 25, 2011 at 8:02 am. #

Vitruvius, this all smacks of Pausch’s “Last Lecture.” Ain’t buying it. If I had to plant a literary character’s name on you, it would be Dr. Pangloss. I’m glad you think that you’re such the optimist and anyone who writes (accurately, I think) about war, nuclear meltdown and political corruption is an Eeyore. And, yes, my personality has been informed by being a Russianist and actually being present when one of the two great super-powers imploded. It wasn’t a pretty site. I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing thank you, and I guess you’ll just keep on trying to pin the tail on me.

Matthew on May 25, 2011 at 8:03 am. #

Pardon my error in the reply, of course I meant “pretty sight” but it also wasn’t a “pretty site.”

Matthew on May 25, 2011 at 8:06 am. #

And Nick is no Pooh. More like a Huffalump, sneaking into your cuddly little community to steal your honey and trouble your dreams.

Vitruvius on May 25, 2011 at 9:25 am. #

Heffalump. But the 7.58 stopping train arrived at Swindon at 8.19, owing to annual point maintenance at Wisborough junction.

Matthew on May 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm. #

Apologies. Heffalump it is. Pooh was never a big hit in our household. More of a Dr. Seuss kind of place. As for the Python reference, what can one say?

Vitruvius on May 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm. #

For those of you following along at home, that was of course from Neville Shunte’s delightful little play, It all Happened on the 11.20 from Hainault to Redhill via Horsham and Reigate, calling at Carshalton Beeches, Malmesbury, Tooting Bec, and Croydon West.. Interestingly, perhaps, we weren’t that big on Winnie the Pooh either, Matthew, I’ve always been a bit more of a Rupert Bear aficionado. Anyway, it’s been a slice, I look forward to our next conversation, Matthew, and as always, I wish y’all the best.

Nick Glossop on May 25, 2011 at 11:42 pm. #

For the record, I have never thieved honey. Troubled dreams? Sure, but I have my boundaries.

Matthew on May 26, 2011 at 6:39 am. #

I’m not sure the Heffalumps actually thieved honey so much as were seen as potential honey thieves, at least in Pooh’s fevered dreams. And, of course, the honey is metaphoric, no? For the record, I have known you to borrow a cup of sugar, but that was dutifully paid back. Don’t want to impinge your honor sir.