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Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Not So Happy War Brides

In the light of recent events in the USA, it is interesting to note that, following World War II, when British war brides prepared to follow their G.I. husbands to America, they were treated with the utmost barbarity. Before they left Britain they were taken to an American army base where they were subjected to various intrusive medical investigations to ensure that they were not suffering from venereal disease. Once they had been vetted, they were packed into ships with very few comforts and, it was widely alleged that many babies died of dysentery en route. On their arrival they were deloused and subjected to another medical examination before being allowed to join their husbands. For some, worse was to follow, but, as this Pathe newsreel shows, others finally found happiness:


The band Squeeze wrote a song about the same subject in 1981:


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

And the winners are...

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition to win a free audioversion of "The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II"

The winners were chosen at random (not by me!) and are:

J. Kerrigan from the United States, who wrote, "I think that I have read all of your books and my favorite is "Dear Papa, Beloved Mama" because it gave me a real sense of what life was like for the children growing up in Queen Victoria's family."

and...Richard Chester from the United Kingdom, who wrote, "So far I have only read your Shattered Crowns trilogy but enjoyed it so much that I have several of your other books, including, 'The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm', on my wish list."

Congratulations to the winners! And thank you again to everyone who entered! 

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Win a Free Audiobook

To celebrate the launch of the audiobook 'The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II', I am offering a prize of a free download of the book to one Audible customer in the USA and to one in the UK for the following competition. Using the 'contact form' on this blog, please write which of my books is your favourite and why; or, if you have not yet read any of my work, which you would most like to read...and why. In your message, please include your email address and whether you are in the UK or the US. The winning entries will be posted on the blog.

If you are not an Audible customer, you can still read the book by signing up for a free trial and selecting: 'The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II'. 

The competition will close this Sunday, 26th February 2017.  


Sunday, 19 February 2017

What Is and Isn't Acceptable - Has the World Gone Mad?

It is alarming and bizarre to see that there was such an outcry on Twitter because America's First Lady began a speech by reciting The Lord's Prayer.

...But there is no outcry about the amount of satanic imagery presented even to very young children by the music industry. Very young girls imitate the weird 'dances' of these people, who choose to perform in dark theatres surrounded by dancers dressed as devils...

...use satanic gestures...


....and even present imagery of satanic sacrifices...


...but they complain about Melania Trump saying a prayer???

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Fake News Is Not a Modern Phenomenon

Fake News is anything but a modern phenomenon. It is an art perfected by newspaper editors and the bankers, industrialists and shady figures who stood behind them in the days leading up to the First World War. As far back as 1815, the Rothschilds made a fortune by implying to the Stock Exchange that Napoleon had won the war. The stocks were sold at a low price, the Rothschilds purchased them and were later able to sell them back at a massive profit. In 1895, the Kaiser warned the Tsar that journalists were making mischief to stir up international tensions; and the British Prime Minister, Asquith, later warned the Kaiser that shady groups controlling the press were doing immense damage in both countries. In 1909, Lord Northcliffe printed a series of articles suggesting that the Germans were about to invade Britain; and soon afterwards an American journalist stated:
“There is no such thing as an independent press in America. It is the duty of a New York journalist to lie, to distort, to revile, to toady at the feet of Mammon, and to sell his country for what amounts to his daily bread – his salary. We are the tools and vassals of the men behind the scenes. We are marionettes. These men pull the strings and we dance.”
It was largely due to the fake news in the Russian press, stating falsely that the Germans had mobilised that led to such patriotic fervour that the Tsar, too, felt obliged to mobilise. More disturbingly still, as I show in my book, ‘The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II’, in 1917, the Congressman Oscar Callaway:
 ‘...accused the banker, J.P. Morgan, and a syndicate of steel and railway magnates, of gathering a group of twelve influential pressmen who would gradually take over one-hundred-and-seventy-nine American newspapers to ensure that the public would only read articles supporting policies which would best suit the financial interests of the syndicate.’  
It often seems we all need to look way beyond the headlines and newspaper reports. When the press and other media attack a person in a position of power, such as a president, so mercilessly, it immediately begs the questions: What are they afraid of? And what are they really tying to achieve? And, more importantly, who truly is behind it?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A Lesser Known Royal Romance

A lesser known story than that of the romances of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra, is the equally lovely story of Queen Victoria’s cousin, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Kohary. At one time the Prince had been a potential candidate for the hand of the Queen of Spain but he would eventually marry for love a former child prodigy, actress, soprano and concert pianist, Constance Geiger. This account of their story is taken from my book “Queen Victoria’s Cousins.”
“Miss Geiger, however, did not fit the popular image of a disreputable actress, for, as a highly gifted musician, she had been viewed as a child prodigy and had progressed from acting to performing as both a soprano and concert pianist. To supplement her income she also gave music lessons in Vienna but, when her father died, her mother opened a dressmaker’s shop in which Constance was forced to work as a saleswoman.
By chance, one of her regular clients was the wife of the proprietor of a local hotel where Prince Leopold regularly dined. One day, the two men fell into a conversation about music, during which the proprietor mentioned his wife’s connection to the former child prodigy, Constance Geiger. Intrigued, Leopold visited the shop and, after speaking with Constance, was so enamoured that he made many more visits until a liaison developed, resulting the birth of a son in April 1860.
Constance’s many accomplishments could not compensate for her lack of royal blood, and the Austrian court was aghast when Leopold chivalrously announced his intention of marrying her. When his request for a title for her was denied, he demonstrated his respect and love for his bride, by arranging a lavish public wedding, presided over by Joseph Rauscher, the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna. On the way to the church, Leopold rode proudly beside Constance’s carriage, which was emblazoned with his coat of arms and surrounded by footmen and outriders; and, once inside, he further asserted her right to be viewed as his equal by offering her his right hand, rather than the left, which was the usual custom in the case of a morganatic marriage. When questioned about this, he boldly replied that, since his own mother was not of royal blood, he and Constance were equal in the sight of God, and, by rights, in the eyes of society.
Fifteen months later, Constance was granted the title Baroness Ruttenstein, but, while Queen Victoria and Leopold’s brother, the former King Ferdinand of Portugal, welcomed her into the family, his other brother, Gusti, was pressed by his wife, Clementine of Orléans, to refuse to acknowledge her. Viennese society was equally disdainful of the dressmaker’s daughter so the couple lived mainly in Paris, where Leopold purchased a villa near the Bois de Boulogne. There, they formed a cultured and lively circle of friends, including such luminaries as the actress, Sarah Bernhardt, and the Swedish soprano, Christine Nilsson.”

 

Monday, 13 February 2017

The Kaiser Was Not Preparing For War

This is a brief clip from the Audible version of 'The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II', illustrating an important observation from a contemporary American commentator, explaining one reason why it is erroneous to believe that the Kaiser wanted - or was preparing for - war.

 The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II

Friday, 10 February 2017

Kaiser Wilhelm II - Available as an Audiobook

I am delighted that 'The Innocence of Kaiser Wilhelm II' is now available as an audio book. Brilliantly read by the wonderful Jack Wynters, it is available now on Audible where a sample of the book can be heard; and it will be available on iTunes and via Amazon within a couple of days.


Wednesday, 8 February 2017

A Very Strange Kind of Love

What is all this Love Trumps Hate business? It seems to be a very strange kind of love that goes out onto the streets leaving an awful mess for someone else to clear up.
It is an even stranger kind of love that not only attacks the President but also his family including his young son.
It is a weird kind of love which accuses a man of being sexist then sets out to destroy a business woman by removing her products from countless shops just because she his daughter.
It is a very weird kind of love which claims to be against racism but then mocks the alleged racist’s wife for her supposedly poor English (even though she speaks five languages!).
It is a very, very, very strange sort of love that inspires attention-seeking singers and actors to jump on the bandwagon and say they would like to blow up the White House.
It is a strange kind of love that makes one person the scapegoat for all the evils in society, and rakes up things that happened over a decade ago to prove a point.
It is a strange kind of love that makes it alright for one President to impose a ban on immigrants than rages in anger because another does it for a shorter time.
There’s so much hypocrisy around all of this, that is quite startling!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

The Suffragettes Would Be Horrified by Today's Feminism

Part of what drove Emmeline Pankhurst to found the Women's Social & Political Union (known as the Suffragettes) was her experience as a Poor Law Guardian when she saw how pregnant women were treated, and when she saw that many were later separated from their babies. She wrote of that time:

“I found that there were pregnant women in that workhouse, scrubbing floors, doing the hardest kind of work, almost until their babies came into the world. Many of them were unmarried women, very, very young, mere girls. These poor mothers were allowed to stay in the hospital after confinement for a short two weeks. Then they had to make a choice of staying in the workhouse and earning their living by scrubbing and other work, in which case they were separated from their babies; or of taking their discharges. They could stay and be paupers, or they could leave with a two-weeks-old baby in their arms, without hope, without home, without money, without anywhere to go. What became of those girls, and what became of their hapless infants? That question was at the basis of the women guardians demand for a reform of one part of the Poor Law.” 

On other occasions she wrote of babies being sent out to 'baby farms' and her horror at the way they were treated. Above all, she stressed the importance of the care of pregnant women so that the babies would be born healthy, and also the need to allow mothers to stay with their babies. She was absolutely horrified by women who had been driven to infanticide as a result of their poverty.

How then can so-called 'feminists' dare to claim the right to be following in the footsteps of the suffragettes, when they claim that abortion is a woman's right? People should, by all means, be free to express their opinions, but it is shameful and wrong to claim to be continuing the work of the very brave women who risked their lives not only for the welfare of women but also for the welfare of helpless children, born or unborn.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Free Kindle Book

Tomorrow, in honour of the anniversaries of Prince Albert and Princess Alice, I am giving away for free the Kindle version of my book 'Queen Victoria's Creatures':


Thursday, 27 October 2016

Books

I am happy to announce that Queen Victoria's Creatures is now available in paperback and Kindle formats:

And if you are looking for stocking fillers as Christmas approaches, or wanting a little light relief on chilly autumn evenings, you might enjoy a little Victorian era quiz book - also available in paperback and Kindle formats.


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Coming Soon...."Queen Victoria's Creatures - Royalty & Animals in the Victorian Era"





From a garrulous parrot who embarrassed an Archduke, to an injured fawn carried home in the arms of a Queen, animals featured largely in the lives of the royal families in the halcyon days of the European monarchies.
Disruptive dogs, bothersome birds, faithful friends, family pets, livestock and working animals all had their place in palaces, but while these were generally treated with respect and affection, princes saw no incongruity between wilfully slaughtering other creatures for sport.
Throughout the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of birds were shot for entertainment, and, as empires expanded, hunters were proud to exhibit their trophies of more exotic animals, whose heads and skins were boldly displayed on palace walls. This, too, though was the era of a growing awareness of the need to respect and protect our fellow creatures, and a number of royal voices were raised in defence of ‘our dumb friends’. One Queen purchased a large number of caged birds, solely to set them free; while a Duchess took in so many strays that the stench of her home became unbearable to visitors.
 Sometimes amusing, sometimes tragic, the stories of all these animals are each, in their own way, deeply moving, and, perhaps, in the retelling, we, too, can be reminded of the message of Queen Elizabeth of Roumania:
“If man really imagines that he is the lord of the creation…surely he has, before all, a tremendous responsibility toward his inferiors and must, perhaps, some time give an account of the way in which he has treated these animals. If eternal retribution is a reality, if we are responsible, what shall we then suffer for the way in which we have treated God’s creatures.”
This book is dedicated to the thousands of unknown and innocent creatures who gave their lives for Man’s amusement, and the thousands more who continue to suffer such abuse today.

Why I Believe In Grammar Schools

I am somewhat baffled by the argument that Grammar Schools are divisive and geared towards wealthier people. I attended a Grammar School in which there were pupils from very different backgrounds and from all areas of the city and beyond. The wealth of the pupils’ families was of no significance at all to us, as we simply saw classmates, in the same uniform, studying the same subjects and being encouraged to achieve all the we could achieve according to our individual talents.
There are many people who say that Grammar School were divisive as those who did not attend them were viewed as somehow inferior. Again, I think this argument does not hold water. The problem was not with the Grammar Schools but rather with the attitude that somehow academic talent is superior to any other talent – technical, manual, musical, artistic or otherwise. Rather than condemning the Grammar Schools, the question should have been why are some talents viewed as more important than others.
The fact is, I am not gifted manually. I wish I were. I cannot sing opera. I wish I could. Should, therefore, there be no singing lessons because people like me feel inferior to those who can sing? Should there be no university degrees in physics, because I would not be admitted to the courses?  Should there be no drama schools because some people are not good actors? Should there be no apprenticeships in plumbing and electronics because I couldn’t do it?
It often seems to me that rather than raising everyone up to their highest potential, certain politicians prefer to make everyone the same and pretend that we all have the same talents. I certainly do not think children should be made to feel inferior in any way because their talents are not the same as someone else’s, but equally it would be wrong to pretend that some children are gifted at everything when they clearly are not. It would also be wrong to prevent one child excelling at something because another child couldn’t do it. We will never all be Olympic athletes, pop stars, actors, footballers...nor would we all want to be. Education, as far as the Latin I learned at Grammar School goes, surely, means ‘leading out’ as in helping children to discover whatever talents they possess and using them to their highest ability. 
The question I would like to ask is not, “Are Grammar Schools divisive?” but rather, “Why do we value some gifts more than others?” If we stop doing that, then all children could be attend appropriate educational facilities and we would stop pretending that we are all the same.