“You’re discriminating against me!”

The walk into Farnham this morning was all a bit grey and miserable. It was raining a very little bit but not enough to warrant the amount of people wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas.

In fact, by the time I returned home, the sun was out and the sky was utterly cloudless. This was something for which Gardener Dave and Polish Andy were delighted. Something for which Polish Andy was NOT delighted was the fact that he was stuck between the crumbling shed and the back fence trying to re-felt the roof.

They also spent a considerable length of time removing foliage from the fence at the back of the Wildflower Patch. This included the rather old and feeble butterfly bushes.

It was while they were cutting this jungle back that I arrived home. I made a coffee and headed out to my office, saying hi in passing. Gardener Dave asked me about my tomatoes, so I stopped to tell him how delicious and sweet they were. We had a laugh then I walked into my office.

One of the problems in having a nerve disconnect in my ankles is the fact that I can be remarkably unstable on my feet. I am forever correcting and trying to avoid the ground. This happened as I walked into the office. I did not avoid the ground.

From Dave’s point of view, just outside my office window, I’d fallen down a hole in the ground sort of like Geraldine did in The Vicar of Dibley. He asked if I was okay. I waved pathetically and said I was fine.

Fortunately I had managed to shield the bookcase with my body which received most of the coffee. The rest, including the mug, was in the middle of my chair, which had shielded my laptop. It was a most fortunate accident. Except that I bashed my head against the bookcase. This meant I had a headache for most of the day. You’d think it would have forced a bit of knowledge in rather than cause me pain.

Having made another coffee and wiped everything down, thanking evolution that ants weren’t that popular in Surrey in the Autumn, I settled down to write my blog post. Before then, though, I checked my mail.

Whenever I go into Yahoo to check my mail, I get the news screen. Usually I ignore the headlines because, more often than not, they are just click bait and irrelevent. Today, however, I spotted one which made me chuckle. Here’s a screen grab:

It makes me wonder how some people manage to get through the day carrying so much stupidity on their shoulders.

In the meanwhilst, at the vets, there was a bit of mask rage. A chap came in with a couple of dogs, one a puppy. The receptionist asked if he had a mask. His simple response of “no” had her ask him if he was an exception. His equally short response of “yes” was not enough.

The receptionist asked if he had a document or pass or something concrete to prove that he couldn’t wear a mask. He then said that he didn’t need to. He quoted the Disabilities Act 2004 suggesting that by asking if he had a medical condition that precluded him from wearing a mask, it was like asking a wheelchair user to prove they needed the chair before letting them in.

I have to say, I think he had a point. The people in the vets, however, disagreed. The head vet was called for and the man was asked to leave. The man was not happy and, as he passed me he muttered something quite derogatory about the staff at the vets.

I felt a bit torn. On the one hand, I agreed completely with him and, if it was solely to do with me, I might have stood my ground as well. However, given it was for his dogs, and they have no control over anything, I think I’d put a mask on for their sake or carry something that explained why I couldn’t.

Not that I was there for anything other than getting the girls their yearly booster shots but even so. My girls are pretty important to me and will always come before an argument between humans.

Which nicely brings me to this week’s webinar from the Western Front Association.

Tonight it was the job of Andrew Rawson to tell us all about the Sheffield steel industry and how, on the home front, it coped with the war effort and supplying munitions for the war effort. His talk was entitled Tea Pots to Tin Lids: Sheffield’s Steel Industry 1914-1918.

The photo above shows how the factories seconded all manner of engines to move products and raw materials. Actually, Andrew told us, he’s found two elephants involved in the Sheffield war effort. Lizzie, above and Sarah. He didn’t mention where they came from.

His talk was excellent. The webinars I’ve attended so far have been about the war and have been about Europe. Which is fair enough, obviously, but hearing about the home front is also important. The fact that soldiers were fighting each other with weapons that had to be made somewhere is pretty important.

I took a lot away from the webinar but something I can’t quite fathom is how the media at the time slammed the women working in the munitions factories (because the male workers were busy killing each other). Newspapers were sold with headlines claiming that these women were swearing, consorting with men, drinking alcohol, being more than a bit lairy and how they should be ashamed of themselves. Talk about patriarchal slut shaming!

I’m not particularly surprised at the media because they’ll never change. However, I am surprised that the British newspapers didn’t realise how valuable and necessary the female munition workers were. Why were they so happy to help the enemy?

It’s also quite interesting how the patriotism of the workers was, largely, above the muck raking slime of the papers. Imagine if the women had all gone “Fuck you then, I’m off!” and just left the bullets to make themselves.

As usual, it all makes me wonder about the other ordinary, normal people in Germany, Austria, Russia, etc, who were also going through the same thing. It’s all well and good thinking all rah rah about the ‘goodies’ but the ‘baddies’ were in the same situation regardless of how much the newspapers insisted they were heartless monsters who ate babies.

Today, this happened

Talking about war…On 5 October, 1511, Eedgenootschap created an anti-French League.

This was during the sometimes called War of the League of Cambrai. This was but a small part of the Italian Wars of 1494–1559. The League of 1511–13 was directed against French ascendancy in Italy. The coalition was organized by Pope Pius II, and included England, Spain, Venice, the Holy Roman Empire, and Switzerland. But it all went back a lot longer than that.

‘Eedgenootschap’ is a Dutch word meaning confederacy and was adopted by the Swiss.

The whole episodes (Italian Wars and War of the League of Cambrai) are extraordinarily complex and intertwined. The untangling is not simple. There are many well known names (Medici, Sforza, Pope Alexander VI AKA Rodrigo Lanzol Borgia) that crop up throughout the whole time. In fact, it’s easier to take little bits in passing and throw them out like so many tempting biscuits.

Two historically important consequences of the whole thing are noted in various sources.

Firstly, the marriage between Phillip the Handsome (son of Maximillian I and Mary of Burgundy) to Joanna the Mad (daughter of Ferdinand II and Isabella the Psycho of Spain). This spawned the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V which, effectively, encircled the French with enemies.

Secondly, there was a massive outbreak of syphilis within the French army. This was the first recorded outbreak in human history and, eventually, led to the discovery of the origins of the disease. I have not found any mention of mask wearing.

When we think of the turmoil of the two world wars during the 20th century, it’s amazing to think of how much greater that turmoil was in a Europe that seemed to be continually at war throughout the Middle Ages.

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