Wrong Kind Of Heroes

Charles Lindbergh was the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air non-stop, in 1927.

Wrong: the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic by air was by John Alcock and Arthur Brown, some eight years earlier.

Yet while we all remember Lindbergh, Alcock and Brown aren’t acknowledged often, not even by their own country on the centenary of their achievement:

Two WWI heroes made the first transatlantic flight fuelled only by sandwiches, a flask of coffee and raw courage to win £10,000 Daily Mail prize. So why 100 years on is Britain doing nothing to remember these magnificent men?

Oh, please.  I can think of several reasons.

  • White men
  • Worse yet, heterosexual  White men
  • War veterans mongers
  • Didn’t even try  to recruit female- or POC crew members
  • Leaving from a country stolen from the native peoples by colonialist oppressors
  • Using an aircraft once used as a weapon of war to bomb helpless civilians
  • Burning countless gallons of fuel, i.e. a leaving a massive carbon footprint
  • Showing up less brave, less able people by a pointless act of so-called “heroism”
  • Their sandwiches contained meat, and their coffee wasn’t “Fair Trade”.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  I’m just surprised that their existing monuments haven’t been destroyed by now.

Taken Too Young

When I grow up, I want to be like the recently-deceased historian John Lukacs, who has often been labeled an “iconoclast” (i.e. someone who destroys icons and sacred cows).  I think John Willson’s description fits him perfectly:

“John Lukacs is well known not so much for speaking truth to power as speaking truth to audiences he senses have settled into safe and unexamined opinions.”

No better example was when Rudi Giuliani compared the spirit and endurance of 9/11 New Yorkers to 1940s-era Londoners, which the irritated historian called nonsense — he thought (with plenty of justification) that the Blitzed Londoners had had it far worse than New Yorkers.

In addition to all that, Lukacs was an unashamed fan of BritPM Sir Winston Churchill, which is yet another reason to respect him.  When pomo historians attempted to downplay Churchill’s wartime achievements, Lukacs shot them down like RAF Spitfires did Nazi Heinkels.

We need more historians like John Lukacs:  many, many more.  For those who want to read his stuff, I can absolutely recommend two works in particular:  Five Days In London and The Legacy of World War II.  I’ve read his Budapest: 1900 three times.

Lukacs was 95 when he died, so I have thirty years’ work to do, and I’m going to set myself a goal of reading a “new” Lukacs book (i.e. ones I haven’t already read) every six months.

Definitely No Snowflake

Yikes.  Try this wilting flower for size:

Virginia Hall was fluent in French, Italian and German when she went to work for the US foreign service before World War II but was invalided out of the service after a hunting accident in Turkey.
Her shotgun slipped from her grasp and as she grabbed it, it fired, blasting away her foot.
By the time she got to a hospital, gangrene had set in. To save her life, the surgeon had to amputate her left leg below the knee.
Always able to see the funny side of things, Miss Hall immediately named her wooden leg Cuthbert.

When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, she fled to London, and with her language skills, was soon recruited by the SOE.
After training in the clandestine arts of killing, communications and security, she went to Vichy France to set up resistance networks under the cover of being a reporter for the New York Post.
After the November, 1942, North Africa invasion, German troops flooded into her area and things became too hot even for her.
She hiked on her artificial leg across the Pyrenees in the dead of winter to Spain.
During the journey she radioed London saying she was okay but Cuthbert was giving her trouble.

…and then she got really serious about doing bad things to Nazis.  Read the whole thing.

WHM — First-Timer

Here’s the final post of my “Women’s History Month” series, and it’s a slightly more ummm eccentric choice.

To those who know me, it will come as no surprise that I’ve always had an eye for the ladies:  I had my first proper kiss (on the mouth) with a girl at age 6 (hi, Lynette!), and beautiful girls and women always fascinated me, whether in person or in pictures.

But the first woman I ever saw who ever provoked an actual physical response from me (yeah, the bulging trousers effect) happened at age (I think) 10, when I saw a picture (not this one) of Ursula Andress:

Good grief.  I think the pic was a still from the movie Nightmare In The Sun, but I can’t find it anywhere.

And of course, we all know about Dr. No  and Honeychile Ryder (but I didn’t see that one until much later, my parents having decided that it was too “grown-up” a movie for a 7-year-old boy).

Image by © John Springer Collection/CORBIS

So there you have it:  the first beautiful woman to give Kim a woody.  If that isn’t an historic occasion, I don’t know what is.

WHM III

When the history of the world is explored at some time far into the future, historians will scratch their heads at the collapse of an entire culture and civilization, and wonder how a society so successful, so prosperous and so advanced could have fallen into disrepair and decay, this little footnote may shed some light on the topic.

Now as we all know, today’s grannies are generally not the same as grannies of yore.  Here’s yore:

…and here’s today:

   

Sadly, however, this modern-day ageless sexiness seems to have washed away the modesty and reserve for which grannies were once renowned, and one arrives at this sad conclusion (warning: link contains extreme nausea risk):

A grandmother and self-proclaimed ‘prolific cougar’ who has dated hundreds of toy boys believes bedding men under 30 is the key to keeping young.
Gaynor Evans, 57, from Enfield, North London, has dated more than 200 younger men since she had a fling with a 23-year-old after divorcing her second husband in 2010.
The author, agony aunt and businesswoman never dates exclusively and said she has no intention of her love life slowing down – despite being a grandmother of four.

…and there you have it.  “Agony aunt” indeed.