1812, or as we British say, about ten past six. - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

1812, or as we British say, about ten past six.

W.C. Fields was one of those fantastic masters of the English language, with a gift his rampant alcoholism could not diminish. It was he that coined the idiomatic phrase, “There appears to be an Ethiopian in the fuel supply”.

In my case it was when the editors started to mention 1812 to me as a subject for a blog. He kept on about 1812 as if it should have some sort of significance to me, but all I could come up with was, “Hey. That’s the year that has its own overture isn’t it?”

The editors kept asking me to write in shorter sentences. “Punchier,” they say. “Underestimating the intelligence of whatever readers I might be able to scrape together,” I says. But the majority of you are Americans and y’all have a readymade palette of phrases about never failing to make money by underestimating yourselves in one way or another.

I am not unaware that it is 2012 and or the significance it has in America, but it appears these editors don’t understand that. I wasn’t expecting that much information to come back from my less than wholeheartedly enthusiastic Wikipedia search.

In fact I was mumbling to myself that the editors at Baltimore Post-Examiner might be transforming into the latest manifestation of what I call “The Barry Keane factor” – with names changed to protect the guilty. Barry Keane was a prize prick who just happened to be the boss of a place where I once worked. How he got to be in that position is proof that some turds float. He was lazy, arrogant, deeply unpleasant and bald as Donald Trump, also sporting “The Kings New Comb over” that no-one else could see.

Barry Keane was an enjoyment vampire, possessed of the ability to suck the joy out of a room full of people just by entering it and I have had the misfortune to come across several versions of him during my life. Now the editors here are not all these things but then again, I don’t know, because I never met any of them. But this 1812 thing was beginning to rob me of my enjoyment in writing my blog, which for the most part I enjoy, as it gives me a chance to shoot some fish in barrels.

New paragraph.

Not too many words at once.

How’s that?


Let’s move on.

Well what do you know? In my case, four fifths of five eights of intercourse all, as it turns out there was a series of significant events other than the overture inspiring ones in 1812. A whole bunch of colonial skirmishes according to Wikipedia, whose rendering of the whole affair ends with this sentence,

“The war is scarcely remembered in Britain today, as it regarded the war as a sideshow to the much larger war against Napoleon raging in Europe.”

You know, the one with its own overture.

Now I am not so much of a killjoy that I would deny either myself or y’all the opportunity of a few ironies tossed out into the ether about this particular war, especially as it was one of the few you have won. The capture and burning of Washington – can we help you with that again at all? The capture of Lake Erie in 1813 which ended the prospect of an independent Native American state in the mid-west – how do you sleep at nights? And worst of all, being responsible for giving Canada, “a heightened sense of national feeling and solidarity.” You bastards.

But this is all ancient history. We are hardly likely to be coming looking for deserters now anyway. You won. Now Britain is no longer responsible for your savage massacre of our language, or the torture, imprisonment and subsequent exile of the letter “U” from words such as “colour” and “flavour.” We find it convenient that there are such unique identifiers out there giving us the ways and means of identifying you at a glance. How else would we know to make allowances for you?

Apart from shorter paragraphs that is?

So anyway, 1812, blah blah, we had bigger fish to fry as we were at war with the French, whom we loathe, because, well, they’re French. Plus ca change, eh? Glad to see you’re still on our side regarding that one. “Cheese eating surrender monkeys”, as I believe one of your wittiest intellectuals said. And of course there are many plusses to the whole stramash.

The immense boost to the American tourist and song writing industries being the first that spring to mind. The Battle of Baltimore being another that I had to look up. Until now all I knew was that there were plenty of birdwatchers in Baltimore, being home to many ravens and orioles apparently. It was apparently that battle which gave rise to the lyrics of “The Star Bungled Spanner”, which I really must get round to paying attention to one day. Tried once, got distracted when Janet Jackson’s titty fell out.

By the way. What was all the fuss about Janet Jackson’s titty anyway? It’s not as if you couldn’t see exactly the same or worse in any edition of National geographic is it? All in all, 1812 was a defining war in American history, as so many of them are. You almost tend to use them as punctuation marks. “This marks the end of the war on…..(fill in as appropriate)”

All I can say is – for the simple reason that now YOU get blamed for all the international grief in the world today and not us – I am happy for you to have won the 1812 war. Otherwise, as W.C. Fields didn’t say, “We would appear be in the headlands of the river Guano in a floating vehicle devoid of any form of propulsion”. Probably with near neighbors who wanted to hear the quality of our porcine impersonations.















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