01 April 2013
This week I visited Brinklow Castle. Brinklow Castle is the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle dating back to medieval times. The motte, or mound on which the castle keep was built is thought to be a prehistoric barrow or burial mound. Nothing of the original castle buildings remain, only the motte and the groundworks can be seen now.
I visited this week because the mound is an excellent place for rolling Easter eggs. I doubt there will be much Easter egg rolling this Sunday though, as the area is rather waterlogged.
There is a good view of the surrounding countryside from the mound, and the grassed area is perfect for kids to play in the summertime, with two or three picnic tables. This visit I noticed that the bracken and brambles had been cleared. Good for playing in the summer, but not so good for blackberry picking in the autumn. Brinklow Castle is usually a perfect place for blackberry picking and hopefully some of the blackberry plants will grow back.
Cut and paste these coordinates into Google maps or Google Earth to visit the location: 52.412640, -1.356356
Rec Room Rant
Did You Know?
01 April 2013
In 1815 The Napoleonic wars ended and the infamous Corn Laws were passed. The two events brought with them mass unemployment and famine in England.
The Corn Laws made it prohibitively expensive to import grain and they were passed by parliament to protect the fat-cat land owners. The Corn Laws were particularly unpopular with mill owners who wanted to maximise their own profits by paying their workers as little as possible (nothing changes does it?). Whatever bare pittance they paid their workers had to provide the means to buy the staple food, bread.
At that time suffrage wasn’t universal, and the hard working, half starved masses did not have an influence on how they were governed. The socio-economic climate led to the formation of the Manchester Patriotic Union who organised a mass meeting. The meeting took place on 16th August 1819 at St Peter’s Field, Manchester. A well-known radical orator Henry Hunt was invited to chair the meeting.
Previous meetings had been mocked by the press because of the disorganized conduct and ragged appearance of the attendees. In order to prevent this happening again, the organizers gave instructions to the attendees to be well dressed, well behaved and unarmed. Each group of attendees was rehearsed so that the march to the meeting would take place in an orderly fashion. The rehearsals for the meeting were monitored by the local magistrates who became more and more concerned about the event. They feared that it might end in a riot, or even a rebellion.
On the day of the meeting the magistrates observed from a house on the Southeastern corner of St Peter's Field. They had arranged for a substantial number of regular troops and yeomanry (volunteer cavalrymen) to be present nearby.
The crowd gathered in St Peter's Field in organized contingents. Around sixty thousand men women and children attended, which amounted to about half the population of Manchester and its surrounding area. The assembly was peaceful and many were wearing their Sunday best clothes. The rest of Manchester was like a ghost town, the streets and shops were empty.
On seeing the enthusiastic reception that Henry Hunt received, the magistrates issued an arrest warrant for the speakers at the meeting. Letters were sent to the commanding officers of the militia asking them to proceed to the magistrate’s location.
On receiving their note the yeomanry immediately drew their swords and galloped towards St Peter's Field. They trampled down a woman; killing her two year old child as he was thrown from her arms. William Fildes and his mother were the first casualties of Peterloo.
Sixty cavalrymen of the Manchester Yeomanry were instructed to assist the chief constable by escorting his deputy to the hustings to remove the speakers. As the cavalry pushed forwards through the crowd they became stuck and in a panic they started to hack about with their sabres. On their arrival at the stand, Hunt and the other speakers were arrested. The yeomanry's hacking at the crowd had provoked a hail of bricks and stones which was perceived by the magistrates as an assault on the yeomanry. When the regular cavalry arrived they were immediately ordered to charge into the field to disperse the crowd. At about the same time the Cheshire Yeomanry charged into the field too.
Imagine hundreds of horsemen galloping into a sixty thousand strong crowd hacking indiscriminately at men women and children with their sabres. It was a bloodbath. To make matters worse, the crowd was prevented from escaping by foot soldiers standing with bayonets fixed. When the crowd eventually dispersed, there were 11 dead and over 600 injured.
In the aftermath there was rioting in the streets. Peace was not restored in Manchester until the next morning, and rioting in surrounding areas continued through the following day. The meeting at St Peter’s Field resulted in a crackdown by the authorities and progress towards electoral reform was hindered significantly.
The Peterloo massacre is a mark of shame on England's past. It is another example of the unbelievable harm that human beings inflict upon one another.
Ritual Genital Mutilation
The Peterloo Massacre
01 April 2013
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"Down with 'em! Chop em down my brave boys: give them no quarter they want to take our Beef & Pudding from us! ---- & remember the more you kill the less poor rates you'll have to pay so go at it Lads show your courage & your Loyalty!"
This is such a wide ranging subject I can’t possibly do it justice with a single rant, but here is a little bit on what I consider to be an uncivilised and barbaric practice.
Much is reported in the media these days about the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM).
FGM is the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia (labia and/or clitoris) for non medical, usually religious purposes. The World Health Organization estimates that 100–140 million women and girls around the world have been mutilated in this way. FGM is carried out by some religious communities (predominantly Muslim) in order to “control women’s sexual desires”.
Quite apart from the horrific ordeal a baby or young girl has to endure, FGM carries with it health risks such as fatal hemorrhaging, recurrent urinary and vaginal infections, chronic pain, and obstetric complications. The practice was outlawed in the UK in 1985.
Of course FGM is only half the story. We all know of the widespread ritual circumcision of Jewish and Muslim boys for religious purposes.
Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin which is achieved by cutting it back from around the urethral opening and then cutting it away from around the glans. When the procedure is performed for religious purposes it is usually without medical supervision or anesthesia. Approximately 30% of the world’s men are circumcised and the majority of male circumcisions are performed for religious reasons.
The ordeal of circumcision without anesthesia is horrific for the same reasons FGM is horrific. Some argument could be made that clitoral cutting/removal may heighten the pain for a girl, but I really think that this is splitting hairs. A surgical procedure performed without anesthesia is horrific. End of story.
Health risks and ongoing complications from male circumcision are undoubtedly less prevalent than for FGM and there is some evidence that it provides limited protection against STDs in adult life. However, complications arising from circumcision do occur and include urinary retention, urinary tract infection, septicaemia and partial amputation of the glans.*
Other complications can arise from an ultra-orthodox Jewish practice which involves the mohel (circumciser) stemming the flow of blood from a baby’s penis by oral sucking. This exposes the baby to the possible transmission of diseases such as herpes. Herpes is very dangerous in new born babies; sometimes causing blindness, brain damage or death.
I have to ask myself; does a lower risk of complications make any difference? A lower risk is still a risk, and there is still the horrific cruelty involved. You wouldn’t treat a dog in this way and if you did, you would soon be standing in court charged with animal cruelty. I make no distinction between ritual female genital mutilation and ritual circumcision. I consider them both to be aggravated assault. We should adopt a more general term for this abomination: - Ritual Genital Mutilation (RGM).
I am all for freedom to practice religion and freedom to profess one’s beliefs. If this involves torments like self flagellation, or elective circumcision, that’s ok. It is not ok, to choose the same for another; especially when they are in a position of vulnerability. Parents do not have universal rights over their children. We cannot discipline them too harshly, or endanger them by taking them out in cars without safety restraints. Babies are unable to give informed consent. They should be left in peace until they are old enough to decide for themselves.
I believe that RGM is a vile heinous crime and its practice should carry the most severe punishment in law. If you wouldn’t do it to a dog, don’t do it to your children!
*Israel Journal of Medical Science, Volume 17, Number 1: Pages 45-48. January 1981.
Cold, cloudy and wet. with few signs of spring
This one has a link to last week’s rendition in that the Peterloo massacre prompted Percy Shelley to write his famous poem ‘The Marque of Anarchy’.
A new Top Tip and the Good Food Guru presents pasta and pesto with chicken and courgette in Lifestyle.