Roll, Jordan, Roll!
It was too good to last.
Jordan Rhodes, who scored a phenomenal 40 goals for Huddersfield Town last season, is on the move. He's being transferred for a reported £8 million to Blackburn Rovers.
The only surprise, really, is that he's going to another Championship side rather than to the top rung of English football. But he served Huddersfield well. Town would never have been promoted last season without him.
I saw him play twice last season - including at Wembley, in the play-off.
Good luck, Jordan, on the other side of the Pennines.
"It ain't 'alf 'ot, Mum!"
Just back from Exeter, with its wonderful medieval cathedral, which has a whole series of moving military memorials. Above is the grandest - erected in 1860 by 'the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates of the 9th Queens Royal Lancers who served with the regiment in India'. It's 'in memory of their comrades who fell there in the service of their country, killed in action or died of wounds'.
The list of those who fell in action constitutes the whole of the first column and the first few names of the middle column. The remainder, the greater part of those commemorated, is a list of those members of the regiment who 'died from effects of climate' while in India.
What a quixotic project, to create and defend an Empire!
The latest London Review of Books includes the following letter, in response to Perry Anderson's articles about Gandhi, Nehru and modern India:
Perry Anderson says that Kashmir became part of India in 1947 ‘with a forged declaration of accession’, and that the document then disappeared for ‘over half a century’. Not quite. The maharajah of Kashmir was pushed into joining India by an invasion of Pakistani tribesmen, and there’s little doubt that he signed the instrument of accession. A facsimile of the crucial page bearing his signature was published more than forty years ago, and the entire document was posted on the website of India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. However, when I sought permission to consult the original, I was told – it would be nice to think that the play on words was intentional – that the Indian government had ‘not acceded’ to my request.
There is certainly something fishy about the circumstances of the accession. The evidence is compelling that the maharajah signed on 27 October, but was told to record the date as 26 October. In other words, he put his name to the document a few hours after India began an airlift of troops to the Kashmir valley (the beginning of a military presence that continues to this day), but in a manner which suggested it had been signed before the military operation began.
There's more about this in my book about Kashmir in 1947 - and for ease of reference, here's the signed copy of the Instrument of Accession:
Gone to the Dogs
A train journey today took me past Catford Stadium - once a mighty dog track. No more! It's now a rotting hulk - though as you pass by, you can just make out the silhouette of greyhounds in the nameboard above the entrance.
Greyhound racing stopped at Catford in 2003. I was never a great afficionado of the dogs, but when I lived walking distance from the old Harringay Stadium in the 1980s, I used to go there every once in a while. It had seen better days - at least, I hope it had - but it was still fun. And it touched on the old London sub-culture of Baron's 'The Lowlife', of obsessive gamblers, tic-tac men, and bookies at their on-course stands.
Harringay closed in 1987 and the stadium was demolished. White City had been pulled down the previous year. Walthamstow, which I went to once - a palace compared to tawdry Harringay - saw its last artificial hare race round the track back in 2008.
According to Wikipedia, there are still twenty-six registered dog tracks in the UK - including stadiums at Bexley, Harlow and Merton. But the glory days are well and truly gone - and I wouldn't put money on them coming back, at any odds.
Well, this was a surprise. A splendid thatched cottage in suburban London, within the range of my sturdy A-Z.
Any idea where?
Bernard Canavan, 'Pub Lodgings'
Bernard Canavan is an artist whose work focusses on the experiences of the Irish in Britain in the 1950s and '60s. He has an exhibition entitled 'Exile World' in Galway - here's the link to it - and these two marvellous paintings from the exhibition are posted here with Bernard's blessing.
Bernard Canavan grew up in County Longford in the 1950s. He emigrated to England in 1959 with his father and worked in the usual unskilled emigrant labouring jobs on construction sites and in factories. He returned to work in Dublin as a graphic artist before finally settling in London as a freelance illustrator for the 1960s underground press: Oz, International Times, Cyclops, Black Dwarf and magazines such as New Society, Peace News and Tribune. He won a scholarship to Ruskin College Oxford in 1971 and later took a PPE degree at Worcester College, Oxford.
Bernard Canavan, 'Camden Girls'
There is both social bite and a rich humanity in Bernard's paintings. He is a fellow editor of History Workshop Journal, which is how I know him - and he has contributed the very striking cover designs which have helped make the Journal so distinctive.
There are more of Bernard's paintings featured at Saatchi online - again evocations of the Irish emigrant experience which he knows so well.
Soller at rest
Back from a week in Mallorca, and what do I blog about - a cemetery. The graveyard at Soller on the west, where the mountains starts to mean business, is a wonderfully peaceful spot above the town. It's terraced, opened in 1814, and went through successive expansions mainly in the late nienteenth and early twentieth centuries. The funerary architecture is imposing - as befits a prosperous town, its wealth built on lemons and oranges - and the cemetery is well cared for. It's now on the town's trail of historic locations, and has rightly attracted the attention of other internet sites - here's one A Tomb with a View, and another.
The custom of putting photographs on the gravestones adds to the cemetery's faded charm. It's not a habit I like - but in Soller it seems absolutely appropriate. And it helps to capture the generation who made the town, built those solid stone houses, and gave the place its haut bourgeois solidity.
To the edge of the cemetery, there's a small separate enclosure - not quite as well kept - for Protestants. There lies the grave of a British teenager (he apparently died in an accident in the mountains). And also a solitary US military grave from 1933, with not a word of further explanation. The Sixth Fleet used to call at Palma quite a lot, but this doesn't seem to be a navy grave. And the internet offers no clue about the fate of Private John H. Whyte from Pennsylvania.
A quiet Sunday in Bexleyheath
Obliged to spend a Sunday afternoon in Bexleyheath (decidedly not Bexley Heath, I discover), I had no idea what I'd find. Answer: a vast, soulless shopping centre, and - continuing this blog's recent clerical theme - a remarkable number of churches.
This one, in a back street, was perhaps the oldest, and certainly the most enticing. It was built in 1860, apparently as a Wesleyan chapel, and is now the Bethany Gospel Hall. I was walking past just as the gospel meeting was getting underway, and I guess this photo features the larger part of the congregation.
In the heart of the heartless shopping centre is Bexleyheath's Coronation Memorial clock tower. It celebrates George the Fifth's coronation in 1911 - which makes the inclusion on one of the plinths of the socialist, author, designer and visionary William Morris (who died in 1896) decidedly curious. He was, I am fairly sure, a republican. I'm glad he's there, but just don't understand why he's there.
There's a local campaign to get a bust of the Queen on another flank of the clock tower. 'Bring the Queen to Bexleyheath' is the slogan. It's the only way she'll get there - if she's got any sense.
Imagine the scene: a wooden cliff-top chapel serving cream teas in the graveyard as we look out on an Olympic sailing event in Ringstead Bay. And we went to Dorset to get away from the Games!
St Catherine-by-the-Sea is surely one of the smallest and least accessible churches in the country. It's on top of 'the Burning Cliff', a one kilometre hike from Ringstead (if you come via Holworth, there's a vehicle track of sorts). It's a tiny wooden chapel, built just a couple of years ago, replacing an even smaller church (described as 'little more than a garden hut' on one clerical website) initially built in the 1920s.
I was told that the National Trust, a major local landowner, had helped with the construction project - good for them!
The church has a service every month - every week during August - but to make the most of its location on the Dorset coastal path, and of the Olympic sailing events down below off Weymouth, it is now offering daily cream teas and other very acceptable treats. All dispensed by a wonderfully cheerful group of volunteers - who are also selling jam, piccalilli, and some lovely fabric bags.
The church has a small memorial plaque for Rachel Nickell, the young woman brutally murdered on Wimbledon Common twenty years ago. Apparently her grandparents lived in west Dorset.
I would have included shots of the view from the churchyard and of the Olympic yachts - but the sea mist made the view hazy, and the boats were so far away that even with binoculars you couldn't make out much of the action.
So that's the story of how I came to be having scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam, along with a cup of instant coffee, in a cliff-top country churchyard ... while trying not to be put of by the scattering of gravestones all around.
But what a wonderful discovery deep in the Dorset countryside!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
Welcome - read - comment - throw stones - pick up threads - and tell me how to do this better!