Say cheese.

April 9, 2008

Over the weekend I was cycling in Belgium, doing the sportive version of the ludicrously hard Tour of Flanders. On the way back, still eating like a horse to make up for all those hours in the saddle, I popped into a Brussels’ train station supermarket, and found this. Now, I knew that Passendale was well known in Belgium for its cheese, but I’d somehow contrived not to see a packet before. So, not able to ignore the First World War for a moment, I had to buy some (evidence, incidentally, of how hard it is to calculate when an academic is, and is not, working). Does it make a point about the specificity of British remembrance of the war? After all, part of Passchendale’s place in ‘memory’ is its associative power – the rural imagery of dale mixed with the biblical imagery of the Passion. Perhaps, but perhaps not – after all, the French didn’t feel the need to rename Champagne, for all the fighting that went on there.

It tasted pretty good, by the way, particularly with a bit of bread.


History songs

February 11, 2008

Brett Holman at Airminded has posted up a video of the Aussie pub band Weddings, Parties, Anything performing their song ‘A Tale They Won’t Believe’. As Brett explained in a previous post, the song is about a celebrated incident in Australian history, the cannibalism of the bushranger Alexander Pearce. Quite aside from Robert Hughes’ version of it in The Fatal Shore, this is an episode which I think I saw Victoria Wood describing in a programme she did about the Empire. Pretty well known, therefore.

Brett also points out – and the video highlights – that the song totally goes off in a packed pub. This set me thinking about history songs: can anyone come up with an example of a song about an incident in modern (or earlier) British history that would get the same reaction?

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