Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On England Without Research, Part Three: By Her Satanic Majesty’s Request

  • Mick Jagger thought that was some clever shit, making it “her” instead of “his,” didn’t he?
  • “Keef. Keef. I made the devil a waaaaady.” (You know how he talks.)
  • And then Keef says something unintelligible, but soulful.
  • Get to work, jackass.
  • Where were we?
  • England.
  • When?
  • The past.
  • You’re of little to no help.
  • Then just start spouting random British bullshit to prime the pump.
  • Eat fish with chips, but their chips are not chips.
  • The fish is fish.
  • The money is no longer as complicated as it used to be: there were farthings and pence and snookers and shillings and half-thistles and crowns and ha’pennies, or sometimes you would straight up trade a bottle of gin for a bit of rumpy-pumpy, and it wasn’t Base 10, either.
  • 12 of this to four of that to 18 of the other thing.
  • Until recently, no one in England had exact change.
  • Now it’s just the Pound, and it divides into 100 pennies like God intended money to do, and it’s still the Pound, because England wanted, wants, and will forever want nothing to do with the Euro.
  • (Again: I’m using “England” to mean “Great Britain” or “the UK.” WARNING: the residents of Scotland do not think that those terms are interchangeable in the slightest, and will inform you of this by headbutting you until you die. England is a single country that shares an island called Britain with Scotland and Wales and they make up Great Britain. (Although maybe not for much longer for Scotland.) The next island to the left is Ireland; the top bit is a country called Northern Ireland, and it joins the three nations I previously mentioned to form the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland is part of the UK because of Oliver Cromwell, who was truly a bad hombre.)
  • In fact, England very rarely wants anything to do with Europe.
  • Brits enjoy traveling and working on the Continent nowadays, but for the vast majority of England’s existence, the only reason to go to Europe was to shoot Europeans.
  • It’s only twenty-something miles from Dover to Calais, but those miles are wet.
  • If it were dry, you could walk that in a day.
  • Swimming it takes a while, and people still do it: there are no sharks in the English Channel, but I wish that there were so they could have eaten everyone after Gertrude Ederle who attempted the crossing.
  • A fellow did it, then a lady did it, and that should have been that.
  • Mission accomplished.
  • England has a North and a South, just like America, but they do not have a West, and they certainly do not have a Texas.
  • Partially because the point of Texas is being the size of Texas, while the entire island could fit into the state several times over.
  • Anyway, the North is gritty and rough and workaday, mines and factories and the Industrial Revolution: Birmingham and Leeds and Manchester.
  • The South revolves around London, but there other cities: Cardiff, which stomps; Brighton, which rocks; and Plymouth, which also rocks.
  • London used to burn down every three weeks, and residents welcomed this as a respite from the constant cholera outbreaks, but now it has a big Ferris wheel and an office building shaped like a pickle.
  • It’s better now.
  • The danger and feculence of London (or any city back then, but London in particular since it was the largest) cannot be overstated: urban life was a horror.
  • The past was terrible, but cities in the past were the most terrible: if you were living on a farm, then your life was the same kind of awful that your father’s life had been, and his father, and so on; hell, it’s still really similar on a small farm: get up real early and shovel shit until the sun goes down.
  • But the city had fire and filth: cheaply built tenements leaning against one another, wood and pitch, with a privy out back dropping into an unlined pit; if you were lucky enough to have a plumbing hookup, the waste dumped straight into the Thames.
  • Next time you watch a space launch, or hear about a breakthrough in particle physics, remember how long it took humanity to figure out how to keep the clean water and dirty water separate.
  • No electricity means no light after dark, at least not anything except smudgy oil lamps and smelly gas, plus there was several inches of horse shit coating the ground at all times.
  • And, of course, there were Jack the Rippers everywhere.
  • So, you know: Queen Victoria.
  • Big woman.
  • Sturdy.
  • Almost certainly couldn’t knock her over: stable base on Queen Victoria.
  • She was the Queen for almost all of the 19th century, 60 or 70 years or so, and while she was in charge, England came up with some of the best and worst ideas in history.
  • Evolution, and scientific racism.
  • The world’s first subway system, and the White Man’s Burden.
  • Oscar Wilde, and what they did to Oscar Wilde.
  • The 1800’s saw a massive expansion to the British Empire (the second one, if you’re keeping score at home), and they were just blatant about it: one guy named a county in Africa after himself, like it was a new dorm for his alma mater.
  • Rhodesia.
  • It wasn’t a little place, either: they made two countries out of it, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • England was–for a long damned time–the fiercest military power in the world, and especially at sea: it was against the British Navy that Napoleon met his Waterloo at Trafalgar.
  • Napoleon wasn’t actually that short, but he did have a dinky winky; we know this because someone cut off his dick and put it in a museum.
  • Can we make a deal?
  • I promise not to try to take over Europe if you won’t cut off my dick and put it in a museum for people to laugh at for hundreds of years.
  • It’s cold in museums, and I would not be at my best, so to speak.
  • I digress, but while I was digressing Queen Victoria died, which led to World War I.
  • Not, like, directly or anything.
  • The First World War One was the dumbest war, and I am including the Emu War and all three Cola Wars.
  • All of Europe went to France, killed each other for four years, and then went home having accomplished nothing but set up the sequel.
  • It was a lot like the last Captain America movie.
  • Trench warfare.
  • The British soldiers were called Tommies, and the generals were well behind them, out of the way of the shelling and the smell of No Man’s Land; the generals would order an attack, and the Tommies would go over the top.
  • That means they would get out of their trenches and run at the Germans.
  • Who had machine guns.
  • Which means that plan was no good, but the British High Command tried it a second time, and a third, and a fourth.
  • The artillery would fire, sometimes for hours, and then it would stop; the captain blows his whistle, and young men in silly-looking hats climb the ladder and run towards the other young men in silly-looking hats.
  • There is barbed wire, and mines, and falls, and caltrops.
  • And the Germans, who had hidden through the shelling just as you hid through theirs, had machine guns.
  • In World War I, the British Army had something called the Pals brigades.
  • Men would fight harder for men they already knew, that was the thinking, so battalions were formed from specific locations or backgrounds; small towns, university classes and rugby squads, even a so-called stockbroker’s battalion drawn from banks of the City of London.
  • Do you see the flaw in the plan?
  • The Accrington Pals were mustered out of East Lancashire, 700 of them, and in the first half-hour of the Battle of the Somme, 235 were killed and 350 were wounded.
  • That’s a lot for one town to absorb.
  • After the war, the Pals brigades were abandoned; grief resumed its random distribution.
  • Goddammit, I didn’t get to Churchill again.
  • England is fucking exhausting.

11 Comments

  1. I believe the proper term for a Scottish headbutt is a Glasgee Kiss.

  2. No description of the north, regardless of brevity, is complete without mention of Newcastle.

    Need bother.

  3. Luther Von Baconson

    October 24, 2016 at 11:14 am

    3 pounds 13 shillings

  4. I thought this was going to be about the “psychedelic” album by the stones.

    You could do a series, perhaps a live blog, on tripping to the great(really not so great) trip albums of all times.

    Her Satanic Majesties request
    Some Beatles Album
    Disraeli Gears
    Some Airplane album
    Ultimate Spinach
    Meddle

    Actually we care about you too much. Do not listen to those albums while trippin.

    • NoThoughtsOnDead

      October 24, 2016 at 6:08 pm

      Although ANY Jefferson Airplane album would work, the best ones IMO would be “After Bathing At Baxters,” “Crown of Creation,” or “Bless Its Pointed Little Head.” “Surrealistic Pillow” or “Volunteers” certainly would do (after all, think of how many 1967 trips were enhanced by the former, over and over). Ditto for “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

    • Only double albums qualify, and you had to record them on a reel to reel for continuous play. The Beatles (white album), Live Dead, Electric Ladyland, Wheels of Fire, Tommy and Absolutely Live. Dylan’s effort didn’t work.

  5. The name of the album is “Their Satanic Majesties Request”.

    You really take the “no research” thing to heart

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