An Interesting Discovery

Wikipedia:

The Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office is the title of the official resident cat of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom at 10 Downing Street. Only three cats, Humphrey, Sybil and Larry, have been given the title officially; other cats were given this title affectionately, usually by the British press. There has been a resident Treasury or Downing Street cat employed as a mouser and pet since the reign of Henry VIII, when Cardinal Wolsey placed his cat by his side while acting in his judicial capacity as Lord Chancellor, an office he assumed in 1515.

Larry has held the post since February 15, 2011.

Jenny Wormald, 1942-2015

From the website of St. Hilda’s College, Oxford:

It is with sadness that we share the news that Jenny Wormald died peacefully on 9th December 2015. Jenny was Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at St Hilda’s for twenty years (1985-2005), during which time she served also as Fellow Librarian and Senior Tutor. She was a highly respected and much loved friend, colleague, scholar, and tutor. She will be greatly missed.  A memorial event will be planned to take place in 2016.

Once There Was An England

Discovered an interesting four-part series last night on YouTube entitled Endgame in Ireland. A very telling exchange occurs at 2:30 in the first episode (“Bomb and Ballot Box”): the IRA has just bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton in the hopes of killing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet who were there for the 1984 Conservative Party conference. The bomb killed five people, but not any of the intended targets, and as Mrs. Thatcher emerged from Brighton Police Station she gave an impromptu interview:

Reporter: How are you?

Mrs. Thatcher: Very well, thank you very much. Our worry is whether there’s anyone under that rubble, I don’t know whether you’ve seen it but it’s pretty awful. You hear about these atrocities, these bombs; you don’t expect them to happen to you. But, life must go on as usual.

Reporter: And the conference will go on?

Mrs. Thatcher: The conference will go on.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The Koh-i-Noor, a diamond of Indian origin and currently set in a crown that belonged to the Queen Mother (d. 2002), is a touchy subject between India and the United Kingdom. Like the Elgin Marbles, it came to the UK during the glory days of the British Empire – quite illegitimately, according to the Indians, who have begun a renewed push to get it back:

Koh-i-Noor: India sues the Queen for return of ‘stolen’ £100m diamond

The diamond can only be worn by a woman or a god, according to legend

It was once the world’s largest known diamond, is worth a reported £100m and is currently part of Britain’s crown jewels.

But India wants it back.

Bollywood stars and businessmen have united to instruct lawyers to begin legal proceedings in London’s High Court to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

The diamond was in the crown worn by the Queen Mother at the coronation of her husband King George VI in 1937 and again at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

The group, which has called itself the “Mountain of Light” after the translation of the stone’s name, say that the 105-carat diamond was stolen from its true home in India and are demanding that the UK Government returns it.

The stone is “one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstances”, according to David de Souza from the Indian leisure group Tito’s.

Souza claims the British colonisation of India had stolen wealthand “destroyed the country’s psyche”.

The jewel was given to the reigning Queen of the time by the last ruler of the Sikhs, Duleep Singh, after the British annexe of the Punjab.

Bollywood star Bhumicka Singh, also part of the group, said: “The Koh-i-noor is not just a 105-carat stone, but part of our history and culture and should undoubtedly be returned.”

British Lawyers instructed by the “Mountain of Light” group to seek the stone’s return, said they would base their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.

Satish Jakhu, of Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King, said they would make their claim under the common law doctrine of “trespass to goods”, arguing that the government had stolen the diamond. He added that they would be taking their case to the International Court of Justice.

Historian Andrew Roberts told the Mail on Sunday: “Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognise that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernisation, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratisation of the sub-continent.”

To say nothing of the destruction of the Indian iron industry, the Sepoy Mutiny, numerous famines, and the Amritsar Massacre!

I think that spreading the Parthenon around acts as insurance against the loss of the whole thing in some disaster, which is why I think that Britain should keep the Elgin Marbles. This dynamic does not apply to the Koh-i-Noor, which I think should go back. Colossal gems are kind of naff anyway.