Archive for November, 2010

A gentleman’s disagreement

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The contest for cricket’s Ashes is being fought again. Mike Cronin and Richard Holt consider the place of the Bodyline Series, in the context of its times
 (see bottom of blog for ‘The rules of cricket)

This winter, cricket fans in Australia and in England will be captivated by cricketing battles between the two nations. While this current Ashes series will be tense, it will surely never equal the notorious Bodyline Series of 1932–33 for drama on the field and rancorous politics off it.

Why is it still so controversial? Why do books and films still ponder the ethics of a test series of 70 years ago in which the gentleman amateur Douglas Jardine, (ex-Winchester School and Oxford University), ordered his fearsome fast bowlers, Larwood and Voce, both working class professionals, to bowl at the upper body of the Australian batsmen. The theory was that they would either be caught out by a ring of close leg side fielders or be so intimidated they would lose confidence and give their wicket away. Contrary to widespread public perception, there was no intention to knock them out though that was clearly a serious risk.

The plan worked. England regained the Ashes with a 4–1 series victory. The bodyline tactic was aimed at the brilliant young Australian batsman, Don Bradman, who had destroyed England’s team on their home ground in 1930 with an astonishing series average of 139.14. Jardine came to believe Bradman could be intimidated and that it was legitimate to do so. It was not forbidden by the laws of the game and therefore in his view not against the code of sportsmanship by which Englishmen were supposed to live and the ethic of fair play through which the British supposedly governed their vast Empire.

It was precisely this sacred code which the Australians claimed that Jardine had broken and his methods were denounced in a mysteriously leaked telegram to Lord’s as “unsportsmanlike”. In a reversal of the established stereotypes, the English became ruthless win-at-all-costs Aussies and the Australians the decent English gents.

  Cricket– but not as we know it

 England’s cricketing authorities defended their captain during the series, only to distance themselves later and dangerous fast bowling from both ends. In fact, it was the declare bodyline bowling against the laws of the game. After a couple of years the moral order of the British Empire symbolised by cricket had been restored. The narrative that wrapped itself round the Bodyline Series was simple and monolithic. Douglas Jardine emerges as an upper class snob who despised the Australians.

His bowlers, Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, are seen as honest but misdirected working class professionals who unquestioningly did the bidding of their fl awed captain. Set against the pantomime villain and his stooges there is Bill Woodfull, the brave Australian captain, and most famous victim of Larwood’s fast bowling onslaught, hit over the heart at Adelaide in the third test, and uttering the most famous words in the long history of the Ashes: “there are two teams out there. One is trying to play cricket and the other is not”.

While the established narrative of bodyline makes a nice moral tale – essentially a battle of good against evil – this history of the event is far too simple. Jardine is branded as the instigator of intimidating batsmen with dangerous fast bowling from both ends. In fact it was the massive Warwick Armstrong who started this in 1920 when he led the Australians to the only 5–0 whitewash of England in Ashes history. Armstrong used his fearsome pace attack of Jack Gregory and Ted Macdonald to terrify batsmen both in Australia and on the return trip to England in 1921 where one batsman after another was injured by the captain’s ruthless tactics.

Perhaps the 1932–3 Australians got things out of proportion.Warwick Armstrong, by then a journalist, thought so. Here the economic and political context come in, as the game was played against a background of world depression. Trade and constitutional disputes were aggravating the painful memories of the First World War, in which many Australians felt their lives were sacrificed because of the arrogance of the British public school officer class – the Jardine type, the colonial ruling class so many Australians had left Britain to escape.

As Brett Hutchins (author of a book on Don Bradman) noted, the whole series, for the Australians at least, spoke of “a transcendent nationalism represented by Bradman, ‘the legend’, is squared off against the English enemy”. In a similar vein, one writer in the Sydney Morning Herald noted “the Bodyline Series of 1932/3 had special significance. It was not only the Old Country determined to win in a way that was not cricket; it was young Australia coming to maturity and a new sense of independence. Leading the resistance, striking blows for Australia, was ‘our Don Bradman’. The Bradman legend was created by bodyline bowling”.

It’s war out there

 That Australia had its own national agenda tends to be forgotten in all the furore over bodyline. Another factor was that the British public was largely unaware of what was happening. Reports from the English press in Australia that arrived in England one or two days late largely ignored Australian reactions to Jardine’s tactics. Similarly newsreel footage didn’t make its way into English cinema until three or four weeks after the event. By the time the English team arrived home, in May 1933, what mattered to the public was not how Jardine had played the game, but the fact that England had won back the greatest prize in cricket. Despite his rejection by the gentlemanly establishment, Larwood remained popular with most fans, especially in the north.

As English supporters watch the Ashes unfold this winter they must decide what kind of captain they want. A man like Jardine who persevered, used everything in his cricketing arsenal and brought the Ashes home, or a captain who plays to the spirit of the game before he plays to win? Significantly neither England nor Australia seem to ask this question now.

The old cultural bond of sportsmanship has largely gone as the links between the two countries have been loosened by the nationalism on both sides. In the 2005 Ashes series, Australian batsman Ricky Ponting’s treatment at the hands of Steve Harmison and the refusal of the England captain, Vaughan, to show any concern for Ponting’s injuries (he had been hit in the face) prompted the other Australian batsman, Justin Langer, to remark “This really is war out here, isn’t it?” Like it or not, far from being the outcasts of English cricket, perhaps Jardine and Larwood have turned out to be its inspiration.

Jardine – the contemporary hero

 Born in India in October 1900, Jardine was very much a son of empire. He was not an aristocrat but the son of a solicitor and as such perhaps even more conscious of his status as a gentleman and more active in asserting it. Narrowly missing the First World War, he volunteered for the Second despite being past the normal age for active service. Between the wars he fought his own battles on the cricket field. He was aloof, superior, stern and commanding; he was also loyal, fiercely protective of his players and mellowed somewhat with the years, hardly the monster depicted in the Australian press. He left no autobiography and his deeper psychological motivations remain obscure.

His upbringing and education were rooted in Victorian certainties of class and behaviour, Britain’s role as an imperial power, and the superior place of Wykehamists (pupils from Winchester) within that society. But the First World War shook these certainties. The amateur ideal of sacrifice was challenged by a new emphasis on the popular hero as a winner.

The heroic ideal became more ambivalent, still influenced by imperial and Victorian visions but subtly transformed by the advent of the mass media, especially popular reconfigurations of the hero such as Bulldog Drummond, Sexton Blake, Tarzan and Biggles, who moved quickly from the pages of comics and novels into radio and cinema. These fictional heroes were accompanied by real life heroes such as Egyptologist Howard Carter, Everest climber George Mallory and world water speed record holder Sir Henry O’Neal de Hane Segrave.

What the fictional and real life heroes shared with Jardine was a degree of selfishness. None of them were particularly interested, as their Victorian counterparts had been, in ideas of service, team spirit and the common good, but were driven by a desire for mastery, success and recognition.

These were modern themes which challenged the established rules of society. Jardine, acting as he did in pushing the rules of cricket and seemingly caring little for the general good of the imperial game, challenged the committee men of cricket and pursued selfish victory whatever the cost. In that, he was a thoroughly modern and contemporary hero.
 Further reading

 Stiff Upper Lips and Baggy Green Caps: a Sledger’s History of the Ashes by Simon Briggs (Quercus 2006);

Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith (Aurum 2002);

Don Bradman. Challenging the Myth by Brett Hutchins (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

External Link: http://www.bbchistorymagazine.com/

Overseas visitors keep asking me about the rules of Cricket, here we go:

The Rules of Cricket

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in.

Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out.

When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out.

Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in.

There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out.

When both sides have been in and all the men have out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game!

Hope that helps…………………………

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – Bespoke Tours of Britain

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Good news for Stonehenge and the new visitor centre.
has been given a £10m boost, thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, it has been revealed.

The grant will support work to remove the existing visitor facilities allowing the experience of the stones to be more naturally integrated with its ancient processional approach and the surrounding landscape.



These improvements will give people the chance to explore what the site would have been like thousands of years ago.

The project aims to improve the visitor experience, including the creation of a new carefully designed visitor centre which will include education and exhibition spaces to help people learn more about Stonehenge’s history.

The project will also support training opportunities and a new volunteering programme.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Stonehenge is one of the archaeological wonders of the world. It demonstrates the vital role heritage plays within the UK’s tourism industry as well as being a great example of our fascinating history.

“This Heritage Lottery Fund investment will help transform this site and give people a much greater understanding of why it is so significant.”

This is really great news for the monument and will greatly improve the experience for the visitor

Stonehenge Tour Guide
Histouries UK – The Best Tours in Wessex

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New Stonehenge theory:
Neolithic engineers may have used ball bearings in the construction of Stonehenge, it was claimed today.


Stonehenge Mystery

The same technique that allows vehicles and machinery to run smoothly today could have been used to transport the monument’s massive standing stones more than 4,000 years ago, according to a new theory.

Scientists showed how balls placed in grooved wooden tracks would have allowed the easy movement of stones weighing many tons.

No-one has yet successfully explained how the heavy slabs used to build Stonehenge were shifted from their quarries to Salisbury Plain.

Some, the bluestones, weighed four tons each and were brought a distance of 150 miles from Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Attempts to re-enact transporting the blocks on wooden rollers or floating them on the sea have not proved convincing.

The hard surfaces and trenches needed when using rollers would also have left their mark on the landscape, but are missing.

Experts hit on the new idea after examining mysterious stone balls found near Stonehenge-like monuments in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

About the size of a cricket ball, they are precisely fashioned to be within a millimetre of the same size.

This suggests they were meant to be used together in some way rather than individually.

The Scottish stone circles are similar in form to Stonehenge, but contain some much larger stones.

To test the theory, researchers from the University of Exeter constructed a model in which wooden balls were inserted into grooves dug out of timber planks.

When heavy concrete slabs were placed on a platform above the balls, held in position by more grooved tracks, they could be moved with ease.

Archaeologist Andrew Young described the experiment in which he sat on top of the slabs to provide extra weight.

He said: “The true test was when a colleague used his index finger to move me forward – a mere push and the slabs and I shot forward.

“This proved the balls could move large heavy objects and could be a viable explanation of how giant stones were moved.”

The team went on to carry out a life-size test funded by an American TV documentary maker.

To reduce costs, the scientists used relatively soft green wood rather than the hard oak that would have been plentiful in Neolithic times, when Britain was covered in forest.

This time, the researchers used hand-shaped granite spheres as well as wooden balls.

The results proved the technique would have made it possible to move very heavy weights long distances.

Professor Bruce Bradley, director of experimental archaeology at the University of Exeter, said: “The demonstration indicated that big stones could have been moved using this ball bearing system with roughly 10 oxen and may have been able to transport stones up to 10 miles per day.

“This method also has no lasting impact on the landscape, as the tracks with the ball bearings are moved along leap-frogging each other as the tracks get moved up the line.”

Neolithic people were known to cut long timber planks, which they used as walkways across bogs, Prof Bradley pointed out.

Although the tests do not prove for certain that the ball bearing method was used, they show “the concept works”, he said.

He added: “This is a radical new departure, because previous ideas were not particularly effective in transporting large stones and left unanswered questions about the archaeological record they would have left behind.”

The next stage in the project is to provide mathematical evidence of how much force would be needed to keep a stone moving.

Ultimately, the scientists hope to conduct a full-scale experiment in Aberdeenshire using more authentic materials, stone balls and a team of oxen.

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wiltshire

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— Prince William is engaged to long-time girlfriend Kate Middleton, spokesmen for the monarchy announced Tuesday.

Royal engagement: Prince William proposes to Kate Middleton

Royal engagement: Prince William proposes to Kate Middleton

The pair will marry in the spring or summer of 2011, a statement from Clarence House, the prince’s official residence, said.

The price, second in line to the throne, proposed during an October vacation to Kenya, the statement said.

“Prince William has informed The Queen and other close members of his family,” the statement said. “Prince William has also sought the permission of Miss Middleton’s father.”

After they’re married, the couple will live in north Wales, where Prince William is currently serving with the Royal Air Force.

Royal wedding coin

Royal wedding coin

The Royal Mint has made preparations to begin production of a commemorative coin to celebrate the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, fuelling speculation that they are poised to announce their engagement.

The project is so secret that staff at the Royal Mint’s plant at Llantrisant have been banned from talking about the coin, but insiders have confirmed that the initial design work has been done.

One source said: ‘I have seen the plaster model from which they will cast the die. They are ready to go. All they are waiting for is the date.’

Last night Clarence House said it was unaware that the Royal Mint had prepared for production of the coin.
Full story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1321225/Prince-William-Kate-Middletons-wedding-What-does-royal-mint-know-dont.html

The British Monarchy website

I assume it will be in Westminster……………
Great news, just what England needs during these difficult times

British Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in British History

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Rich in History is something Wiltshire is famous for, particularly Salisbury Plain, the large area of chalk downland within Wiltshire.

Salisbury Plain is steeped in history, both ancient and modern and can justifiably claim to be the cradle of English civilisation. In prehistory, tribes from Europe migrated north and settled on Salisbury Plain.

Wessex Map

Wessex Map

Remains of defence earthworks, burial and ceremonial grounds are scattered throughout Wiltshire. Many of these sites have public access. The most world renown is Stonehenge, a World Heritage Site, north of Salisbury and close to Amesbury. Also a World Heritage Site are the Avebury stone circles (both an outer and a smaller inner circle), not so famous as Stonehenge but equally impressive. Avebury is a few miles west of Marlborough in the north of Wiltshire.

From Overton Hill, near Avebury, the famous Ridgeway begins. This is thought to be Britain’s oldest road, used by prehistoric man, herdsmen and soldiers, and follows the northern escarpment of Salisbury Plain north-eastwards through the ancient landscapes of Wiltshire into the Chiltern Hills of Berkshire. The Ridgeway is 85miles (139km) in length, accessible to the public, and has National Trail status.

As well as the more ‘modern’ Roman Roads that criss-cross the Wiltshire countryside, Roman and Norman settlements continue very much in evidence, often developed on earlier Iron Age hill fort sites such as Old Sarum. This location was the original Salisbury site, a hill fort occupied by the Romans then latterly by Normans following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The exposed nature of the Old Sarum site and disagreements between the clergy and the military led to the building of the new Salisbury cathedral in 1220 A.D. to the south. The townspeople soon followed and medieval Salisbury grew to the city it is today. Old Sarum, rich in history, with its ruined fortifications is open to the public throughout the year.

The Middle Ages were a time of great prosperity for Wiltshire with sheep grazing the chalk downlands and the handwoven woollen cloth in great demand. Many famous buildings, villages and even towns were built from the proceeds. The Industrial Revolution changed everything as mechanical production took over and the weaving industry moved north into the West Riding of Yorkshire.

In more recent times much of Wiltshires rich prosperity has come from the many military establishments scattered over the Plain. Wiltshire airfields and army garrisons have trained and deployed troops and aircraft across the world on both fighting and peace-keeping operations and played pivotal roles in the great military campaigns of both World War I and II.

Each week I will be blogging on a specific area of Wilsthire and talking about its rich history.

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours in Wessex

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Your Journey begins here…

If you are visiting Wiltshire as an independant tourist, you will find a

Wiltshire Tourist Brochure Download
Wiltshire Tourist Brochure Click to Download

great selection of tourist information links from various online sources I have put together for you.
Wiltshire, England – a county of contrasts and diversity. Steeped in history, yet alive to the present – Wiltshire repays the time you spend here with interest.

Explore lively market towns, rolling open scenery, stately homes and magnificent gardens plus experiencing the bustling city culture of Swindon and Salisbury.

VisitWiltshire offers a great range of quality assured accommodation with splendid Wiltshire hotels, friendly B&Bs, self-catering cottages, camping and caravan sites.

There are attractions galore – including iconic Stonehenge, and Avebury. Famous sites such Salisbury Cathedral, Longleat,Wiltshire’s White Horses, Stourhead, and the Kennet & Avon Canal combine with lesser known gems such as Lacock and STEAM.

Here you’ll find interestingly different local shops, quaint tea rooms, gastro pubs, restaurants and events throughout the year.

Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, in front of a roaring fire, walking or cycling, Wiltshire is waiting to welcome you, . . again, and again.

A Taste of Wiltshire

Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral

Britain’s finest 13th century cathedral with the tallest spire in Britain. Discover nearly 800 years of history, including the world’s…

Avebury Stone Circle

Avebury Stone Circle

Originally erected 4,500 years ago, Avebury is the largest stone circle in the world. many of the stones were re-erected…

Around Wiltshire

Wiltshire is a beautiful county of great diversity. With a population of nearly 430,000 and with much of the county designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Wiltshire is the perfect destination for a relaxing break at any time of the year. Visit the World Heritage Sites of Stonehenge and Avebury, admire the beauty of our gardens and country houses; walk the White Horse Trail to see our eight white horses carved into the hillsides; meander along the towpath of the Kennet and Avon Canal or take a leisurely wander through our market towns and pick up the real flavour of country life.

To help you plan your break to this special part of England, find out more about the towns and villages of Wiltshire, the bustling town of Swindon and the cathedral city of Salisbury.

When you’ve decided where you want to go, you can plan your journey using our Travel page and if you need more information you will find a list of Tourist Information Centres with contact details.

Places to Visit in Wiltshire,

A relatively sparsely populated county with grassy uplands and vast rolling plains, sleepy picture box villages like Castle Combe near Chippenham which has one several awards for being the prettiest village in England and Bradford-on Avon in the west close to Bath.

Wiltshire is the gateway to the West Country but also meets Cotswold country in the northern part of the county. It is also surrounded by the extremely picturesque counties of Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Much of the county is agricultural and a very large part is devoted to pasture land.

Salisbury, the county town, is particularly beautiful and dominated by its Cathedral and spire. This is the tallest in England and rises majestically over the plain.

Wiltshire is also the home of some historic attractions – Splendid Longleat in Warminster, Bowood, the magnificent family home of the Marquis and Marchioness of Lansdowne, Corsham Court, Wilton House, Stourhead and there can be no monument in Britain more steeped in legend and mystery than Stonehenge.

External Links
The official tourism website for Wiltshire

Wiltshire Tourist Guide

Enjoy Wiltshire!

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK – The Best Tours of Wiltshire

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If websites like TripAdvisor are riddled with fake reviews, where will the traveller go for authentic advice ?

Bravo TripAdvisor

A report by the travel website, Travolution, this month, confirmed my suspicions that tour operators are being approached by companies promising to post positive reviews on websites in return for monthly fees or discounts on their services. The report claims that such companies can avoid the protection measures that websites have put in place, by posting the reviews from different locations around the world. The report even claimed that one tour company had received a number of reviews before it had even started operating tours.

 To be fair to TripAdvisor it has already begun imposing disclaimers. It admits that it is aware of several companies offering paid-for positive reviews and claims that they have been penalised appropriately.

But I fear that if it was possible to unearth all the fake reviews, there might not be enough red pen to go around. Like drug users in sport, the people committing the offences are nearly always one step ahead of those trying to catch them.

“In fact, all that is required to upload these travel “truths” is an anonymous username and email address (which can easily be faked).”

“TripAdvisor’s successful business model appears to be based upon a minimum of checks, an arrogant disregard for accuracy and truthfulness, and a customer-service regime that is virtually non-existent. It is too easy for tour companies to write their own reviews, or pay others to write them. It is too easy for reviewers to post untruthful or damaging reviews, or for travel companies to ‘sabotage’ their competitors”

“Why should the fate of a business be controlled by “anonymous” users who don’t even have to verify or validate their actual visit? ”

  Several travel companies have embraced these user-generated websites, employing staff to contact clients after they have completed their tour (to right any wrongs and encourage positive feedback). The bigger operators and some smaller ones (you know who you are) send out emails encouraging clients to post reviews; tourist boards, such as VisitScotland and VisitLondon, include TripAdvisor ratings on their websites.

TripAdvisor has taken steps to counter fake reviews. Last year disclaimers began appearing when reviews came under suspicion of being fake. The company said that it uses specialist software and algorithms to screen reviews and has a team of moderators to investigate suspicious postings.

“Advisor has turned into a whining fest where unhappy powerless people can become powerful…kind of like the kid that got picked on in school. “

Users are aware that little tricks – adding an element of critique to a glowing review, saying something positive before you slate a particular tour, using different email addresses and computers, reviewing other operators to establish a track record – can help them get around the detectors. Many UK tour operators are very active with this technique.

There are even websites to help you circumvent the rules. “Writing fake reviews is a great option for almost any business,” said Bob McClain of Wordsmithbob.com, a site that offers a masterclass in the craft.


Fortunatly we have only great reviews on tripadvsor (not sure after this article is published  though?) However if I could easily manipulate tripadvisor reviews anyone could  – you have been warned!
Do more research, use your common sense and do not rely on Tripadvisor – dont believe everthing you read, good or Bad!

External Links

Stonehenge Tour Guide
HisTOURies UK The Best Tours in History

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