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A Scotsman reminds us:

The Cabarfeidh Pages (Highland Warriors)

Henry V Act-3 Scene-1
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard–favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war–proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'


Well, David has seemingly changed that to

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd 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

He is a top bloke.

I am off to the pub with my Henry V speech. I will be about word perfect by 11pm!

What does one do the celebrate Saint George Day?

Henry V is one of Willy's best, of course. Unfortunately for all the brave words Willy forgets to mention that the great triumph at Agincourt had more to do with the fact the English had developed the longbow than it had to do with wanting to "attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you."

And of course 0 out of 10 to Henry for letting himself and his army get into such a parlous strategic position. He screwed up by the numbers.

Fortunately, he'd brought a decent patch of English Weather with him. The French Nobility, charging through a muddy slough, getting funnelled between two woods... latest research suggests the Longbow fire changed a rout into a massacre, that's all. Most French casualties were probably caused by being caught in the crush, drowning, or being slaughtered while face-down in the mud. Think of the disasters that have happened when crowds stampede in a football stadium, then add a touch of the Somme or 3rd Ypres, you get the idea.

This was not obvious at the time though. The English thought they'd have no chance, the French thought they couldn't lose. We now know (or at least, think we know) that all the English had to do was show fortitude in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds to win, regardless of equipment.

It's not recorded what Henry actually said at the time: but the speech from Shakespeare still has the capacity to stir the blood and inflame the passion to come to grips with the enemy. It's not lost its potency over 400-and-some years.

Hence Goose Green. But also, hence 1st Somme. Be careful how you use it.

I included both 'sceptered isle' and 'For Harry' as well as a poem about the lies politicians tell soldiers because I thought it appropriate.

Up here we get St Andrew's Day off and have a good old session in the bar. My Welsh wife is muttering about 'twas the Welsh archers boyo wot won it' (She should write headlines for The Sun...)by the way re Agincourt. Don't start me on how the Welsh Irish and others get days off to celebrate their feast days whilst the English don't. Red Ken spends thousands of your money on Irish and Hindu festivals in London but nowt on St George? I'm only surpised the Coldstream Guards haven't been ordered to remove their cap/collar badges and flags as they bear the red and white cross of who know who....


Here's another great speech in a similar vein.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Collins’s address to the Royal Irish Regiment prior to the Invasion of Iraq March 2003

We go to liberate, not to conquer.
We will not fly our flags in their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their own. Show respect for them.
There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we will not send. As for the others, I expect you to rock their world.
Wipe them out if that is what they choose.
But if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.
Iraq is steeped in history.
It is the site of the Garden of Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham.
Tread lightly there.
You will see things that no man could pay to see -- and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent, generous and upright people than the Iraqis.
You will be embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country.
Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.
If there are casualties of war then remember that when they woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly and mark their graves.
It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive.
But there may be people among us who will not see the end of this campaign.
We will put them in their sleeping bags and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow.
The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam.
He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done.
As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity.
It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly.
I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts.
I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them.
If someone surrenders to you then remember they have that right in international law and ensure that one day they go home to their family.
The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.
If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer. You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest -- for your deeds will follow you down through history. We will bring shame on neither our uniform nor our nation.
(On Saddam's chemical and biological weapons.)
It is not a question of if, it's a question of when.
We know he has already devolved the decision to lower commanders, and that means he has already taken the decision himself.
If we survive the first strike we will survive the attack.
As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.
Our business now is north.

What does one do the celebrate Saint George Day?

Well here in rural Virginia, US of A, we held our annyal Victorian festival, which this year starred my wife as the Lady herself(I now call her QV2).......Another local ex-pat serves English afternoon tea with all the trimmings flown in from London (it's handy working for an airline!)

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