Friday, 27 August 2010

More on The Coward

Another letter to the Telegraph with vital information about The Coward:

SIR – I must take issue with Quentin Smith (Letters, August 24). The “Coward” on the Stock Exchange, Lionel Frisby, had not only the MC but also the DSO. His brother, Cyril, however, had the VC.

Mark Ferguson
Wonston, Hampshire

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


I love nicknames. I rarely call people by their given names and most colleagues get a nickname whether they like it or not.

Often, the harshest nicknames are the best and most endearing. The Telegraph has had a good run of letters about nicknames over the past week. Today's main letter is a peach:

SIR – Those with experience of the old Stock Exchange floor will readily recall some of the nicknames (Letters, August 22) bestowed upon its habitués.
Among them were two brothers, both with highly distinguished military careers and both winners of the Military Cross, one with bar and one without.
The latter acquired the sobriquet of “The Coward”.

Quentin Smith
Dunley, Hampshire

Friday, 20 August 2010

Tally Ho!

Sorry, readers. I nipped out for a quick fag and a pint on June 1st and suddenly the whole summer has flown by in a blur of music events, sport, the Turf, much drinking and the luxury of a three week summer holiday in France.

After being away for so long, the challenge of restarting the old blog machine was oddly challenging. Alceste, who comments in this manor, suggested a compo, which has cured bloggers' block in the past. I will probably use that ploy in a few days.

But first, the chaps in light blue. It was splendid to perform my morning shave today listening to the complete, unedited speech by Churchill that the Today programme re-ran. I was almost tempted to miss the upper lip and start fashioning a raffish fighter pilot moustache. Had I any Brylcreme, I might have slicked the barnet. Even taken up pipe-smoking for a day. Well done, lads; a magnificent show.

Here is the Spectator's editorial on the speech. It seems quaint, in this modern age of warfare, to read about aircraft production and borrowing destroyers from America. Pity that Blair and his succession of useless Defence Secretaries didn't think about armoured Landrover production, or kevlar body armour production, or night goggles, or boots that could cope with rocky desert, etc etc. Still, at least those expensive new chairs in the MoD were comfy.

Mr Churchill Looks Ahead
The Spectator, 23 August 1940

Mr Churchill surpassed even his own masterpieces of lucid and spirited exposition in his speech on Tuesday, in which he surveyed the first year of the war and the last exciting days of victory in the air and looked fearlessly into the future. During the previous fortnight, and especially during the previous week, the nation had become aware of the fact that the intensified air attack was part of that onslaught on Britain whose approach was trumpeted in Germany. It might be no more than a preliminary to bigger attacks to come, but none the less it has been evident that so severe a defeat in an opening engagement, inflicted by the incredible skill and daring of the R.A.F., could not be without its effect on the whole campaign, whilst the destructive attacks by our bombers on the bases and industrial centres of the enemy proved that our capacity was as great in offensive as in defensive operations.
These spectacular triumphs achieved by a relatively small number of flying-men had already heartened the people and nerved them to endure the casualties which must be a consequence of even unsuccessful raids. But it was left to Mr. Churchill to put these events in their wider perspective and to indicate with authority and vision the grounds for confidence in the future. There was a superb but reasoned assurance in his conviction that the British Empire, though confronting the combined power of Germany and Italy, is capable of bringing the war to a victorious conclusion. He alluded ironically to the new German threat of "total blockade," and affirmed our own intention to maintain and enforce a real blockade of Germany, Italy, France, and all the countries that are occupied by the enemy. He dismissed the pleas of those who asked that food should be sent to France or other occupied countries on the grounds that it was for Germany to organise the food supplies that she had disorganised, and that to allow food to go to the subject peoples would be to help the enemy.
This is an argument the force of which is fully appreciated in the United States. No less satisfying to them and to us is the statement that the interests of the United States and of the British Empire both require that the former should have facilities for the naval and air defence of the Western Hemisphere, and that this country will be glad to afford these by leasing suitable sites in the Western Atlantic to be fortified and defended by them. He refrained from linking up this question in any way with the suggestion that America should send us old destroyers and other vessels. That was wise. In such a matter there should be no thought of striking a bargain. Co-operation, to the utmost that either side feels free to offer, is profoundly to be desired – and Mr Churchill has not disguised the fact that we should be glad of their destroyers. But to attempt to achieve such a result under the constraints of a deal would be the wrong sort of approach to this or any similar problem.
Mr Churchill reminded us that it is not in our hearts only that we have been fortified. In preparing our defences immense advances have been made in the short time that has elapsed since Dunkirk. Our aircraft production now surpasses that of Germany. The Army is growing in strength and equipment with every day that passes. Both the Navy and the mercantile marine are stronger than at the beginning of the war. The forces that we are piling up – numbers of trained men ever-increasing in proportion to the increasing supplies of warships, aircraft, tanks, cannon, machine-guns and rifles – are for the moment acting mainly on the defensive, but not without an offensive in the air which is dealing smashing blows at the very sources of German power and an offensive at sea which maintains the blockade. But though at this stage the defensive is necessarily our first pre-occupation it will not always be so, nor perhaps for long. Behind us is not only the vast potential of our expanding war industries but that of the Empire, and in addition the expanding output of friendly America. We are prepared for invasion now with the confidence borne of resolution and knowledge of strength, and the same knowledge gives us equal confidence of our ability during the next year or two to carry the war against the enemy to a victorious conclusion.