memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for January 18, 2012

Pax Britannica

In the 19th century during the Pax Britannica people took an austere pride in being a British citizen. It was an unstated assumption of superiority of belonging to a people had subjected in a seemingly benevolent manner a quarter of the human race and held territorial sway over a seventh of planet’s land surface.
(Yeah, it was really great to be British in the good ole 19th century! Being a Citizen really rocked!)

Meanwhile, up north,
The dark satanic mills
Rained cotton-snow
Obfuscating black-stone

And the ragamuffin urchins
Scampered down the new
Sewers of London-town,
Their bare feet skittering and scrabbling
For a hold along the slimy
Dark little tunnels
Encrusted with human excrement
Regurgitating into the un-sweet Thames.

And up above the ladies and gentlemen,
Citizens of this brave new world,
Strolled in their laid-out parks
Exchanging gracious formulae
Out of sight out of mind.


My great-aunt Mary had the incredibly bad luck (and bad timing) to be stranded at Geneva, Switzerland, where her father had just taken over the British Chaplaincy for the month, on the 3rd August 1914, the day that the Great War broke out.
The day that the lamps went out all over Europe.

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