Stalin Vs Hitler: A comparison – who was worst?

It’s a bit of a fools errand trying to compare disasters, discoveries and empires from different time-periods.  How can one properly make comparisons between the Roman Empire and the British Empire for example?  The Mongol Empire and the French Empire?  Just when you think you have weighed up all the factors then you realise you haven’t factored in gunpowder or the enlightenment.

It’s a little easier doing it with historical figures but still pretty much impossible unless you’re fortunate or unfortunate to live in a time with great rivals such as the early 19th century with Napoleon and the Duke of Wellington. Nevertheless, that hasn’t dissuaded Laurence Rees who has written a book entitled  HITLER AND STALIN: History’s most monstrous contest which is probably only possible at all given they lived at the same time and are almost unique in not only being rivals but incredibly evil for want of a better word.

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How Putins hero Stalin conspired with Hitler.

Back towards the beginning of the summer of 1941, there was only the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth allies fighting Nazi Germany.  The USA was firmly neutral and as much as Putin would like everyone to forget it, the Soviet Union had a non-aggression pact with Germany.  When one of Stalin’s commissars wrote to the Soviet leader warning him that ‘a source’ had told him German planes were on stand-by to attack Russia, b­ringing the non-­aggression pact with the Nazi regime to a sudden and violent end.

Stalin not only refused to believe the information but was furious at the very suggestion that his precious agreement with Hitler would not hold. In reply, he scrawled across the note: ‘Tell your “source” that he can go f*** his mother.’ Five days later, Hitler’s armies crossed the border and Operation Barbarossa and with his intention to wipe out the Soviet Union made clear, Moscow for some reason decided to belatedly enter WW2.

From this we learn two things. First, that Stalin was the one duped by Hitler into agreeing to the unlikely peace deal between the two rival superpowers, despite the ideological chasm between them. Stalin thought it would last; Hitler never had any such intention. Even as ­Operation Barbarossa was happening, Stalin was slow off the mark and refused to believe he had been tricked.

The second thing we learn is about the very different personas of the two leaders. Because, according to prominent historian Laurence Rees in his latest book, such crudity as Stalin wrote would not have come out of the mouth of Hitler.

‘Hitler’s sense of his own special status would have prevented him from using the language of the street,’ writes Rees, just one of the many gems in this impressive book comparing the dictators, whose extreme brutality scarred the 20th century.

By contrast, the foulmouthed Stalin was uncouth and hard-drinking, with discoloured teeth and an unkempt moustache.   The more charismatic and indeed brighter leaders of early Soviet communism had long away been done away with!  Hitler was of course a moderately talented artist.

Despite their ideological and indeed personal character traits that were very different, the two men had much in common: indifference to suffering, certainty of purpose, loneliness with neither having a truly trusted confidence and both shared a hatred of Christianity.  Perhaps as peace, compassion and brotherly love aren’t en vogue for tyrants.

Both condemned free speech and attacked human rights. Both managed to convince their millions of deludedad-herents that they were infallible. Above all, both were entirely without mercy in pursuit of their very different ideological goals — in Stalin’s case a class-free C­ommunist nirvana, in Hitler’s a racially pure world or at least (greater) homeland. And to achieve their goals even the most dreadful suffering was justified.

We’re all mostly aware of the Holocaust and even in the Soviet Union it didn’t take Hitler long to get going.  In September 1941, in a ravine outside Kiev, 33,000 Jews were forced by their Nazi captors to strip naked and lie on the corpses of those who had gone before them, to be dispatched with bullets. The horror was unimaginable, yet Babi Yar was just a fraction of the millions of deaths directly attributable to Hitler.

As for Stalin, among those on whom he took out his spite were the Kalmyks, an ancient Mongol people from the Russian steppes, the entire population of whom were hunted down in 1943 and deported, in unheated cattle trucks, to the Siberian wastelands. Tens of thousands died.

Both tyrants were monsters, yet their personalities and the way they operated were as different as chalk and cheese. Hitler was a man of vision — though the vision was a warped one: Deutschland uber alles, whatever the cost in human (or, as he as saw it, sub-human) lives.

He had a charismatic effect on people. ‘Everything came from the heart,’ recalled one of his dedicated henchmen, Hans Frank. ‘I was convinced he alone was capable of mastering Germany’s fate, through courage, faith, readiness for action and devotion to a great, shining common goal.’

Opponents thought his voice ‘scratchy’, his delivery shouty and his political ideas simplistic. But the masses he preached to were looking for a saviour and could only hear his self-belief — the commodity that a Germany still reeling in the 1930s from the defeat of 1918 and reduced to an economic basket case desperately needed.

Hitler not only fitted the bill but built on it, establishing a cult of personality in which he was the godhead, to be trusted, adored and, above all, obeyed.  The Fuhrer, dictated rather than discussed. That was his modus operandi.

‘At crucial moments, he merely announced to his underlings what he had decided and then relied on his lack of selfdoubt and considerable powers of persuasion, allied to the authority of his office, to push through what he wanted.’

You don’t have to know German to pick up on Hitlers quite charismatic if bizarre style and we all know even today some politicians are great orators and some seem to have a personality bypass.

Stalin, by contrast, was a charisma-free zone. No orator, he wielded power through the all-powerful communist party, with its endless committees that he bent to his will. He was a strong, silent type, letting others talk while he took in what they were saying.

He was, according to Rees, ‘an aggressive listener and an even more aggressive watcher’, his eyes boring into those around him, probing for their weaknesses and, most of all, any hint of disloyalty. When Stalin did speak, he kept his voice low, leaving those listening at a disadvantage as they strained to catch his drift.

No one dared contradict his decisions for fear of the brutal consequences — denouncement, disgrace, death. His paranoia was constant — unlike Hitler, who tended to trust those closest to him until they proved otherwise.

For Stalin, proof was not necessary; suspicion was enough. He was once heard to say that every time he walked down the corridors of the Kremlin, he was wondering which of the armed guards lining his route would be the one to gun him down, and whether he would be shot in the front or the back.   In fact one of the reasons the Soviet Union fared so badly during WW2 was because Stalin had ordered for much of the officer class to be executed along with many other professionals who might be able to think for themselves.

Hitler And Stalin by Laurence Rees (Viking £25, 528pp)

Both men were terribly feared by their subordinates.  The D-Day invasions at Normandy might never have got off the beach if the regional officers hadn’t been afraid to wake up Hitler from his sleep.  Stalin of course was found in his room almost 2 days after suffering from either a heart attack or stroke and may have been saved if only those outside were afraid to disturb their leader. (For a hilarious though tragic look at this time check out The Death of Stalin – Movie Review)

Getting down to the nitty-gritty with the numbers of deaths the two men can be blamed for,  Rees calculates that at least 13million deaths can be laid at Stalin’s door — those who died from ethnic cleansing or deliberate famine in places such as the Ukraine, or as political prisoners in the gulag, or simply shot in the purges.

Rees’s equivalent figure for Hitler’s regime is significantly higher at  20million deaths, of which the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust are well known but to which should be added huge swathes of captured Soviet s­oldiers and overrun civilians who were left to perish.

It may be splitting hairs or moustaches but it is in also in Stalin’s favour that the extermination factories of Auschwitz and Treblinka, designed to exterminate an entire group of people, had no parallel in the Soviet Union.  Stalin’s crimes went on for much longer and were hidden by victory in World War 2 but he didn’t particularly want to exterminate a race of people only those who might cause him trouble regardless of their background.

The way of the world is that the winner not only takes all, but gets to control the history. The result is that, though Hitler is unequivocally consigned to the darkness, Stalin, writes Rees, has largely escaped the full level of censure he deserves.

So much so that he is still revered in 21st-century Russia. One opinion poll there showed 70 per cent approval for him and another declared him the most outstanding figure in world history.

So, was one of the tyrants worse than the other?

It’s a false dichotomy even to ask, as Pavel Stenkin, a Soviet PoW who was imprisoned in Auschwitz but managed to escape, knew only too well. On his return to Russia he was accused of being a spy and sent to a labour camp. Having been starved in a German camp, he found himself permanently hungry in a Soviet one.

‘Fascism and Communism,’ he decided, ‘were the same. I know this better than anyone.’

As was once said, the main difference between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin is the size of their respective moustaches.

So who was the worst monster?  Personally I’d say Chair Mao of China who is thought to have killed more than Hitler and Stalin combined but as with Russia, the longevity of the ruling regime has airbrushed the bad elements (are there any good?) from history leaving Hitler as the byword for evil, at least in the 20th Century.

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My offering of Christmas goodies! Books and Video Tours

I must be the most useless blogger the world has ever seen at least when it comes to self-publicity.  Here I am with a new book that came out at the end of August and I’ve never even mentioned it AND it is an official #1 best seller.

If I ever had motivation or ambition I would be a whole other person but I don’t and never have done.  I have always just wanted to get by and just be.  I remember my teachers would always look with dissatisfaction when I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was 8 or even 16.  Thirty years on and I am no further closer to realising what I want to do when I grow up.   I expect I will discover it one day but in a way, I do hope I don’t.

But seeing as I have had no work or government support for over 10 months I thought that if I don’t like to blow my own trumpet that perhaps I should at least remind everyone that I have a trumpet so here is a selection of my most popular books and some new products!

Secret Gardens of the City of London Kindle Cover

Secret Gardens of the City of London

In 2021 I hope to post a few extracts of Secret Gardens of the City of London but for now Secret Gardens of The City of London is an Amazon #1 best-seller in its section, no doubt helped by the fact that it is based upon my tour with Ye Olde England Tours which has been rated by Viator/Trip Advisor as the top Authentic London Experience.

The philosophy of both can be best summer up by the esteemed Dr Johnson.

Sir, if you wish to have a just notion of the magnitude of this city, you must not be satisfied with seeing its great streets and squares, but must survey the innumerable little lanes and courts. – Dr Samuel Johnson

This book is in Kindle, Paperback and Apple iBooks formats and is a hybrid history and guide book with small maps and details of where to find each one as well as a little about how it came to be and some notable physical or historical features.

Not all the gardens are ancient, London is ever changing and several of the gardens are just a year or so old and many others have been extensively updated and re-landscaped in the 21st Century.  Almost all of them offer a small slice of London history and a great deal of nature and beauty too.

Even on a busy working day much of the City of London can seem largely deserted at least at times.  A seemingly confusing maze of modern skyscrapers, medieval lanes and churches with a smattering of older Viking, Anglo-Saxon and Roman for good measure.   On any given weekend of holiday you can have the Square Mile almost to yourself and though you can get hopelessly lost, it is after all only a square mile.

I’ve been exploring the City almost every day for 7 years and still find something new on an almost daily occasion.  And many of these secret little gardens have become something of friends, sanctuaries from the bustle of busy old London.  Every garden is different and unique and has a reason why it is there at all.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is available in Kindle format for £3.99 from Amazon UK, $4.99 from Amazon.com and all over Amazon stores around the world.

Secret Gardens of the City of London is also out worldwide in Paperback including Amazon UK  and Amazon.com 

Last but not least, if you’re an Apple freak then Secret Gardens of the City of London will shortly be out on the Apple Store / iBooks along with other top retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords and more.

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For more information please click on the link Secret Gardens of the City of London.

Lest We Forget was the first book that I had professionally published by a publisher and is available in Kindle and Paperback formats in all good on-line outlets and literary stores too.   The paperback version includes a number of maps and archive photos as well as some personal photos of my family members who like millions of others, fought for our freedom only never to return home.

You can order Lest We Forget: A Concise Companion to the First World War from Amazon.com in Kindle for $4.58and paperback for $9.99 and Amazon.co.uk in Kindle for £2.99 and paperback for £6.99 and other Amazons around the world.  I am also happy to write a dedication to anyone who wants one, just let me know though I’d have to charge the shipping fee for that.  Please, do leave a review if you buy a copy.  They are like gold dust to independent authors.

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Another perennially popular book is Straight from the Horses Mouth which is an This illustrated book that features 100 of the most interesting Idioms (sayings) in the English language and explains where they come from and why we still say them even when we don’t even know what some of them really mean.

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Straight From The Horse’s Mouth is available from the UK in Kindle format from Amazon here and paperback format here.      American Amazon readers can squirm their way through the book in Kindle format here and in paperback format here.   As well as being available through Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Nook, you can also get in on the action on your favourite Apple product by purchasing the book on iBooks by clicking below!

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Finally, my other really good selling book is 101 Most Horrible Tortures in History.

101 Most Horrible Tortures in History

101 Most Horrible Tortures in History

Inspired by the Horrible Histories TV show, 101 Most Horrible Tortures misses out all the boring stuff and gets straight to the very sharp point, the weird, bizarre and even a bit of the gore! Often when learning history at school, we’d all squirm in our chairs at hearing about the odd bit of torture or terrible execution but on the inside a bit of us loved it.

This book covers some of the craziest tortures that humans have inflicted on each other over the last 6,000 years from every corner of the world. Whether you like your tortures boiling hot; if medieval dungeons are your thing or you think Mongolian tortures are the coolest procedures until the CIA Cold Cell Air-Con torture.

101 Most Horrible Tortures In History takes a wry look at history, torture and bizarre punishments of times past and just a bit of the present so that we can thank our lucky stars that none of this is ever likely happen to us.   History doesn’t have to be torture!

101 Most Horrible Tortures is available from the UK in Kindle format from Amazon here and paperback format here.      American Amazon readers can squirm their way through the book in Kindle format here and in paperback format here.   As well as being available through Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Nook, you can also get in on the action on your favourite Apple product by purchasing the book on iBooks by clicking below!


Our exclusive and world first Virtual 360 degree guided video tours are now coming on line. Make a payment through the debit/credit card system and the tour will be immediately ready for you!

  1. St Pauls, Little Britain, Smithfield and Farringdon Tour (practice tour for charity) This tour starts at St Pauls Cathedral and visits amongst other Little Britain, the beautiful but solemn Postmans Park and the Victorian Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. We’ll see a bombed out church from The Blitz, memorials to the Great Fire of London and infamous executions before heading through Smithfield Market and on into Farringdon. Price £5
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2. Bloomsbury Literary Autumnal Walking Tour in 360 Degree Video See beautiful leafy Bloomsbury in its autumnal colourful glory as we explore the parks and streets and visit the spots where many literary and cultural giants called home. From Virginia Woolf to Charles Dickens. From the Suffragettes to Handel. See the places that inspired the great and the good as well the self proclaimed Wickedest Man In The World and much more in out 69 minute walk around one of the most beautiful and quietest spots in Central London. Price £11

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3. Great Crimes & Punishments Walking Tour in 360 Degree Video This tour takes us to a decidedly less glamorous and much less visited part of London, the East End and Southwark. We start off at the location of one of the great gangland killings involving the legendary Kray twins as well as visiting spots related to Jack The Ripper as we meander through Whitechapel and increasingly hip Spitalfields.

We’ll visit plague pits, places of execution for famous figures such as William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace and then cross over the river by St Pauls and visit an area that was once the most salubrious in London and see The Globe, the infamous Clink Prison, London Bridge and Borough Market as well as stepping back in time to Victorian Squalor to visit Crossbones and the remains of the debtors prison that were so instrumental in motivating Charles Dickens. Duration 90 minutes Price £15

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Posted in history, Life, London, Travel, writing, WW1, Ye Olde England Tours | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting up to mischief in some old woods

Some of you might remember back towards the beginning of the pandemic I wrote a lengthy series of posts on my new neighbour having gone exploring when everyone else was confined indoors.

One of my posts was on Grim’s Dyke, an ancient pre-historic monument and the grave of Visiting the grave of W.S Gilbert – the very model of a modern Major-General. Today I manage to combine both of these posts with a little addendum.

I went off exploring in the woods to the Grim’s Dyke Hotel which was the former home of W.S. Gilbert but which has latterly been transformed into a hotel in rather nice grounds.  There had only been one day of rain for several weeks so I thought that it would be relatively dry but that the cold would keep everyone else away which it largely did.

Grimsdyke Hotel

I’m never quite sure whether I am allowed here or not as some maps say it is ok but I think the hotel obviously doesn’t want to encourage people. Maybe I would stand out less when the hotel is busy but I went where there are no visitors and hoped the people working in the hotel wouldn’t notice me!

It’s a beautiful and has quite a famous restaurant which I will have to try one day.

Further along I found the outdoor pool where Gilbert actually died although now it is uncared for and returning to nature. I also found quite a large section of the mysterious Grim’s Dyke though sections of it have been modified or rather damaged over the last 150 years or so.

Having found what I set out for I made a little diversion to Levels Wood. It doesn’t look particularly dramatic in the winter but it is officially classed as Ancient Woodland and only 2% of the land in the U.K. maintains this natural terrain and to be so inside London is almost unheard of.

This wood also offers a view of my village which though over 500 feet / 150 metres above sea level is hard to see in most directions due either to forest on the south side or housing on the north side.

Lockdown hair 10 months and counting!

You can actually just see the church steeple in the gap between the trees on top of the hillside.

I then began to make my way home along the old Grims Dyke, this section being artificially flooded probably at the time of W.S. Gilbert along with the ancient looking though actually only 19th Century bridge.

It did however off the chance to catch a glimpse of the marvellous old house from a different angle.

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The Most Powerful Women in History 5 – 1

Following on my post on the first 5 of the most powerful women in history, here is the final part.

5. Theodora (500-548) was a highly influential Empress of the Byzantine Empire and a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Married to one of the most notable figures in history, Emperor Justinian I, she was his most trusted advisor and used him to reach her goals. She controlled foreign affairs and legislation, violently put down riots, and, notably, fought for the rights of women, passing anti-trafficking laws and improving divorce proceedings.  She sounds like a woman ahead of her time.

4. Catherine the Great (1729-1796), also known as Catherine II, was undoubtedly one of history’s most famous women.  I have to admit I found it hard to decide who deserved a higher ranking between Catherine the Great and Maria Theresa.   Born in Poland, as a German princess, Catherine attained rule of Russia through marriage and held on to it for 34 years.  In fact she even overthrew her husband and took complete control! She is responsible for continuing Peter the Great’s work in modernising Russia, bringing it more in line with the West’s Enlightenment ideas. She also defeated the Ottoman Empire in two major wars and greatly expanded Russia’s Empire over three continents (including the colonisation of Alaska). She made legislative reforms, put down the dangerous Pugachev Rebellion and was known for a risqué personal life. Her rule is regarded as the Golden Age of the Russian Empire.

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3. Maria Theresa of Austria (1717-1780) was a Hapsburg Empress.  The Hapsburgs are largely forgotten about now in much of the world but Maria reigned for 40 years and controlled a large part of Europe, including Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, and parts of Italy. She had sixteen children, who also became key power players like the Queen of France, the Queen of Naples and Sicily as well as two Holy Roman Emperors. Empress Maria Theresa is known for her reforms in education like making it mandatory, establishing a Royal Academy of Science and Literature in Brussels, and supporting scientific research. She also raised taxes and made reforms in commerce and doubled the size of her army.

2.Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was one of most powerful English monarchs ever and some similar lists actually have Queen Elizabeth I down as the most powerful woman in history.  The daughter of the powerful and infamous King Henry VIII, she never married and is known as the “Virgin Queen,” as well as being incredibly savvy in the intellectual department. Elizabeth I defeated the Spanish Armada and ruled successfully for so long that her reign from 1558 until 1603 is known as the “Elizabethan Era”. As a monarch, the last of the Tudor dynasty, she encouraged major cultural changes like the Renaissance and the transformation of England into a Protestant country as well as the real beginnings of the modern day Royal Navy, voyages of discovery and the Empire.

1. Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was the Queen of the United Kingdom, ruling over a vast British Empire that stretched across six continents for 63 years, the second longest reign in its country’s history (the longest belonging to the current Queen Elizabeth II). Her rule was so definitive that the period has come to be known as the “Victorian Era”. Under her rule, slavery was abolished throughout all British colonies and voting rights granted to many British men. She also made reforms in labour conditions and presided over significant cultural, political, and military changes in her Empire that laid the groundwork for much of the modern world as we find it today not to mention scientific, engineering and medical breakthroughs.  For me there can’t be any one close to her though of course Queen Victoria was very similar to the current Queen with much of the real power held by Parliament whilst Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed it more in person.

Queen Victoria

Perhaps the most powerful woman the world has ever seen. Queen Victoria looking regal yet vulnerable after 60 years on the throne of the British Empire.

I hope you enjoyed my run through some of the most powerful women in history.  I find it a little ironic that the USA which considers itself the most democratic nation has not managed to have a female leader in almost 250 years.  Will they manage it next time?

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The Most Powerful Women in History 10-6

I’ve written a lot of posts about notable and less-known women in history but given the recent election results in America, I thought it would be a good time to give a low-down on some of the most powerful females in history.

Of course such a list is to a degree a personal choice and the figures listed are purely for their absolute power rather than being influential in any other way.  There are lots of variables involved in ranking modern day figures against historical ones.

I don’t really believe in grouping individuals by their race, sex, religion or whatever.  When I was a boy, Carl Lewis was and Daley Thompson were the greatest athletes in my eyes, not the greatest black athletes or the greatest male athletes.  Mrs Thatcher was the the Prime Minister, not the most powerful woman on the planet.  Having said that, here is the first part of my list 🙂

10. Queen Cleopatra (69-30 BC) was the last Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, was known for her superior intelligence secured Egypts Independence for as long as possible from the Roman Empire that was growing ever more powerful in neighbouring lands.  Rather unfairly modern culture obsesses about her beauty and her love affairs with Roman leaders Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony but there is so much more to her than that and these affairs should be seen as a measure of her great power and importance than than anything more mundane.

9. Borte Ujin (1161-1230) I have a big soft spot for Borte having studied Mongol history at University.  She was the wife of Genghis Khan and Empress of the Mongolian Empire, the largest land empire in history. She was one of Genghis Khan’s most trusted advisors and ruled the Mongol homeland in the long periods when he’d be away at war.  Can you imagine just how hard it was to rule an empire from eastern Europe to the Pacific Ocean and keep a lid on all the intertribal power struggles going on.  She must have been quite a woman. She had nine children and was a fantastically skilled horseback archer.

Empress Borte - wife of Genghis Khan

Empress Borte – wife of Genghis Khan

8. Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984) One of two modern day figures on my list.  Indira was the first and only female Prime Minister of India, serving 4 terms between 1966-1984, when she was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards. She was a controversial but very powerful figure, winning a war with Pakistan, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. She was murdered by her bodyguards over her order to storm their holy temple during an insurgency four months prior.

7. Empress Wu Zetian (624-705) was the only female Emperor in Chinese history, living during the Tang Dynasty. Her rule is known for expanding the Chinese empire, economic prosperity, and education reform. Interestingly, she was also known for her interest in Buddhism. A part of me wonders how into Buddhism she was given she was also known for her ruthlessness and cruelty with rumours that she even killed her own son and daughter.  Either way, not a woman to mess with!

Two of the most powerful women in history, Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi.

Two of the most powerful women in history, Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi.

6. Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1979 and 1990, the first woman to hold this office. She was the longest-serving British PM of the 20th century and instrumental in winning the Cold War, even the Soviet Union dubbed her the “Iron Lady”.  She won a popular and in some ways spectacular victory over Argentina in the 1982 Falklands War, but her economic policies had mixed support, as she promoted a free market economy and confronted the power of the labour unions. Possibly the most free-market ruler of all time, she changed Britain and large parts of the world but maybe not always for the best.  Thatcher, Thatcher the Milk Snatcher as she was known in my school.

My next post will complete the run down with figures 5-1.  You might have a clue who makes it if the words ‘We are not amused’ mean anything!

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Rishi Sunak is a liar and a boring one at that.

It’s hard to believe but I am approaching my 10th month without any pay or government support during the Coronavirus epidemic.   The government of course continue to lie and the country largely doesn’t care at all even though I personally know of 7 people in the #ExcludedUK group who have committed suicide in recent days.

Yesterday Chancellor ‘Fishy’ Rishi Sunak made the bizarre step whilst under pressure on a news interview of stating he had speaking with us at ExcludedUK despite the fact he never has and indeed has repeatedly turned down requests to do so from hundreds of thousands of us and indeed countless times in Parliament when asked to do so my MPs.

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I’m never quite sure how wealthy Rishi who then married into a family of billionaires can related to ordinary people. It’s useful that he has a big nose I guess as it’s hard to notice any different when it gets longer whenever he talks… or lies…. same thing really.

So I’ve made a Freedom of Information Request to see all the information about his meetings with us.  I must say, I don’t remember attending any of them even though I regularly offer to meet him and other cowardly liars such as Steve Barclay and Nadhim Zahawi.  For some reason they don’t want to meet me or anyone else from our group on television.  You’d think they would leap at the chance to show us all up but of course they won’t because if they did meet up it would expose their lies to the world.

Anyway I can see why sometimes accountants have this boring image.  I know it isn’t true of everyone but if the chief accountant in the U.K. can only make up lies about us then he hasn’t much of an imagination.  His day certainly sounded more boring than my day.

I had such an amazing day yesterday.  Don’t ever have breakfast with Lee Mack!  He made me laugh so much I snorted porridge out of my nostrils as opposed to some MPS who have snorted other stuff up their nostrils.

Then my old friend Sir Ian McKellan asked me round to his pub and we had a lock-in. He is a right handful when he gets drunk I can tell you.  I’m not sure he should even be doing that stuff with his Gandalf hat.

In the afternoon I went for a bike ride with Daniel Craig in Hyde Park. I asked about whether he could assassinate someone for me.  He looked intrigued but when I mentioned Rishi  and he started such a string of profanities that he lost control of his bike and cycled into the Serpentine. The last words I made out is that Rishi Sunak is a piece of stinking…. and then it went quiet.

Fortunately I was close to the Palace so I just about had time to for tea and scones at Kensington with William and Kate.  It was hard to concentrate as every time I mentioned Boris, little Prince George starting giggling about him being Mr Poo-Poo face.  William and Kate said he wasn’t meant to say that infant of visitors but we all laughed about it in the end.

And now here I am the morning after. You might think I am bleary eyed because I’m Excluded and can’t afford to get my bedroom window fixed so I can actually close it but let met say you’d be totally wrong. What a night with Beyonce!  I can’t say much more, it’s almost like it never happened.

Wow Rishi Sunak is a bad liar!

Only one thing in the preceding paragraphs is true, can you guess which?  It’s not Beyonce.

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The life and death of Doorkins Magnificat who put the Cat into Southwark Cathedral

The week between Christmas and New years is a strange one in the U.K. so many American and other tourists arrive and forget that they are in a foreign country and that having no national holidays since the summer, we are all finding a way to muddle through about 10 days without going to work, or at least those of us that aren’t tour guides.

Back in 2008 in the fabulously historic Southwark Cathedral during these bizarre days, a stray cat appeared at the door. Being sandwiched between the Thames, London Bridge, and a multitude of railway lines, it is hard to think of a more urban place and yet without any people around, there was obviously a hungry cat on the look-out.

After being fed each morning for a few days, the cat decided to move in to Southwark Cathedral and was given the rather fitting name of Doorkins Magnificat by the Vergers who served her on a daily basis as cat owners seem to end up doing the world over.

Doorkins was very much part of the Cathedral fabric and was popular with the congregation, visitors and staff.  A number of visitors came to the Cathedral just to see her and she has even had the honour to entertain HM Queen Elizabeth II though it is said she was less than impressed.

In August 2017 Doorkins published her first book which gives a complete tour of the Cathedral

Doorkins could be quite elusive but it was not uncommon to see her walk in front of the altar during a service, asleep on the Dean’s stall in the Choir during the day or cat-napping in the Churchyard if the sun is out. In the winter months, she liked to stretch out on one of the radiators or snuggle into the hay at the Nativity Crib during Advent and Christmas which if you have ever been in what are often chilly Cathedrals in Britain during winter seems an eminently sensible thing to do.

Like many, her life was to change for ever with the London Bridge terrorist attack in 2017.  As the area was closed off for a number of days, Doorkins was left to fend for herself. Perhaps she had been psychologically harmed during the terrible events of that night as when at last the Cathedral door reopened, she ran in and never again went outside. As with people for 2,000 years, her church had become a place of sanctuary for her.

In 2019 Doorkins was taken home with a Verger and went into retirement when her eye sight failed and it became unsafe for her to explore the vast and at times complex layout of the Cathedral and on Wednesday 30th September 2020, Doorkins sadly died peacefully having suffered a stroke.  

A few weeks ago a memorial service was held for the cat which perhaps understandably was a little controversial to those who live away from the area or were unaware of the story of Doorkins. It should be remembered though that she was a great comfort to the community in the months and years after the terrorist attack and indeed people came from around the world to see her and so bringing much needed footfall and revenue to Southwark Cathedral and allowing people the opportunity to find a quite spot for contemplation in doing so.

She had been laid to rest at the Cathedral.

Photo by Bridget Davey from the Southwark Cathedral Website

To read about an even more famous London cat then check out For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry

Posted in Life, London, Religion and Faith | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Great Crimes and Punishment 360 degree Virtual Video Tour

As some of you may remember, a few weeks ago I created my first 360 degree video tour which all takes place in beautiful and literary Bloomsbury in London based upon our great Bloomsbury walking tour of the district.  So far it has proven to be very popular and even got me some new 5-star reviews which is of course is pretty tricky in the midst of a year-long dearth of tourists.

London Daily Post

Jack The Ripper makes headline news around the world.

And so I decided to create a new tour based on our Crimes and Punishment Walking Tour. This tour takes us to a decidedly less glamorous and much less visited part of London, the East End and Southwark. We start off at the location of one of the great gangland killings involving the legendary Kray twins as well as visiting spots related to Jack The Ripper as we meander through Whitechapel and increasingly hip Spitalfields.

We’ll visit plague pits, places of execution for famous figures such as William ‘Braveheart’ Wallace and then cross over the river by St Pauls and visit an area that was once the most salubrious in London and see The Globe, the infamous Clink Prison, London Bridge and Borough Market as well as stepping back in time to Victorian Squalor to visit Crossbones and the remains of the debtors prison that were so instrumental in motivating Charles Dickens. There is much else to see as well. 

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Because the tour is 360 degrees (or just about) you can use your mouse or fingers to scroll the screen around and look in almost every direction as we walk around the streets and there is nowhere quite like Whitechapel.

I’ve imaginatively titled it the Great Crimes and Punishment 360 degree Virtual Video Tour and it is 90 minutes long. So if you would like to visit a part of London that even Londoners don’t get to see then click on the link and enjoy my walk through some of the most notorious neighbourhoods in history from the comfort of your own home.   

If you’d like to share the link and help out your favourite #ExcludedUK historian and tour guide who is now on bis 9th month with no income or government support then be my guest 🙂 

https://yeoldeenglandtours.co.uk/our-tours-2/virtual-video-tours-2/great-crimes-punishments-360-degree-virtual-video-tour/

My next tour will be in a totally different part of London, Westminster with all its pomp and circumstance.

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My WW1 history book ‘Lest We Forget’ is currently available free on Kindle by the Publishers

I know it’s quite a common thing for some writer to make their books available free or heavily discounted  for a short period of time.  It’s never something I’ve agreed with or indeed done.

Whilst checking on some on something else I found out my WW1 history book Lest We Forget which was published by Endeavour Press (now Lume Books) in 2015 is currently available for free on Kindle or for Kindle apps.

One of the differences with having a book published rather than self-published is that unless you are JK Rowling, you give up a lot of control over certain aspects of your book and this is a good example.

However now that I know it is on offer, I thought I’d tell you all so you can treat yourself to a great freebie… if I say so myself.

Lest We Forget is an easy to read guide to WW1 and is only 122 pages long.  Those 122 pages, however, cover pretty much the entire war as you can see from the chapter titles below.

1    Introduction
2    The Road to War
3    Over By Christmas
4    The Pals Battalions
5    The Race To The Sea
6    The Christmas Truce
7    Life In The Trenches
8    WW1 Literature & Poetry
9    Verdun
10    Battle Of The Somme
11    The War At Sea
12    The Home Front
13    Women And The War
14    New Weapons Of War
15    Desert Campaigns
16    War In The Air
17    Gallipoli
18    World War One Legends
19    They Called It Passchendaele
20    The War Around The World
21    Armenia
22    The Russian Revolution
23    The Americans Are Coming!
24    The Hundred Day Offensive
25    The Armistice
26    Aftermath
27    Remembering The Great War
28    Maps and Photographs

 

From Finland to New Zealand, India to Canada, Lawrence of Arabia to the Red Baron, the horrors of Verdun to the musings of the poets, this book gives a great introduction to the war for casual readers and those wanting a new insight into WW1.

Recently we remembered a succession of 100th anniversaries  relating to the war such as the Christmas Truce football matches, the sinking of the Lusitania, Gallipoli and the awful first day of The Somme.  Lest We Forget covers each one of these epochal events and many more.

I’ve also included the run up to the war itself, insights into how it affects the modern world and how we remember the war today.

Not many people today realise that Britain was bombed by Zeppelins in WW1 and that the east coast was attacked by the German navy.  Or that the American entry into WW1 was very much delayed and that British grew so bewildered that their contacts in Washington fed the American government lies about German school children having parties to celebrate the sinking of American civilian ships.

Everyone knows about the Nazi holocaust in WW2, but very few know their allies in WW1, the Turkish Ottomans carried out their own holocaust of Christian Armenians.  Or that progress on the western front was so slight that the first and last British soldier killed in the trenches are buried precisely six feet but nearly 1 million men apart.

Think the French are cheese-eating surrender monkeys, read about Verdun.  Think the British generals were bad on the treatment of their men at The Somme, learn about the final day of the war and an American commander who cost countless lives just so he could have a hot bath.

Of course, it is called WW1 for a reason, and this book deals with campaigns in Africa, Asia and the South Pacific as well as less remembered campaigns than those we all talk about.

Learn about the various advances in areas such as tanks and poison gas and some low-tech solutions like urine soaked clothes.

Lest We Forget is also available in Paperback.

Posted in history, Life, writing, WW1 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

An autumnal glow from a leafy carpet

After I moved in to my old, small and rather characterful Georgian cottage, I’ve spent much of the year finding out about its various quirks and issues.  Some lovely, some needing to be repaired and few that remain unaffordable to sort out.

Leafy

One rather picturesque feature that came with the house is the fact it comes with an ancient bit of technology known as a leaf-magnet.   I know the village is famously leafy but I’m not quite sure how half the leaves in the place have ended up in my front garden. 

Revenge of the leafy

They look rather nice however especially when dry and add even more character to the place, even if just for a few weeks.   They are less nice when wet however!

The great Leafy rebellion

Every time the front door opens which admittedly isn’t very often these days, the front porch and living room floor end up having leaves being blown in and strewn everywhere.

I think it is rather rustic though and don’t make a big effort to sweep them up.   

A room with a leafy view

When the winds blow or it is a dark stormy night and the heavy old door knocker sometimes tapes at the front door then I imagine some shady character like Blind Pew from Treasure Island might waft in.

Sadly it seems even blind and fictional characters in a centuries old novel have to adhere to Social Distancing rules it seems it is just me and my leaves.

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