British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors, Brits at their, English country scene

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The Queen presented medals for courage and gallantry. The heroic actions of Armed Services personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq make me feel glad I am a member of the human race. This is not, I realize, a universal view, but the older I get the more keenly I appreciate bravery.

This week is the anniversary of the landing at San Carlos Water, where Britain’s Armed Forces fought to restore representative government to the Falkland Islanders. On the night of May 27, thousands of brave citizens defied bombardment to rescue British and Allied soldiers trapped at Dunkirk.

Magnanimity after victory was one of Churchill’s themes. He was not so foolish as to think magnanimity before victory was going to be a successful policy with Nazis or Communists who had already murdered millions of their own people. Though we do not believe that force is our only or best response, we made the same point about violent Islamists.

After Dave Barnby wrote us to point out the difficulty of accessing Threats to Freedom, we placed the file on the navigation bar directly above. (It can also be accessed on the sidebar.) When we began blogging, we preferred a sunny navbar focused on the best of the Brits, but as you are aware, life in “the sunlit uplands” depends on our defeating threats to freedom.

Last week saw the happy opening of the Chelsea Flower Show. I can't say the Red Planet theme of the prize-winning garden really stirred me. I prefer Earth. Since Abraham Darby roses are blooming in Portland and they are luscious English roses named after three ingenious Darbys, I couldn’t resist showing them to you.

Meanwhile we are rethinking education after Dave Cameron stomped on the issue with another proclamation. (Was he very popular at Eton? He seems to have that discouraging proctor-air I have come to dislike so much in other politicians.) My headline about “exciting solutions for schools” is a bit of an exaggeration, but I do think solutions that involve choice as in British schools in the 19th century and Dutch schools today are worth investigating.

A happier meeting with words occurs at Hay, where the literary festival opened its 20th year; and at the Open Air Theatre at Regent's Park, which celebrates its 75th year. A way with words is promised at Dartington in July.

We began a series called The Knight since William Marshal’s turbulent career illuminates Magna Carta – rather the way lightning illuminates a dark forest. The idea of trust will be important for Marshal, perhaps because his father betrayed his trust when he was five or six and almost killed him. Other posts looked at how society suffers when trust between people breaks down. That is one reason it’s so important that malefactors be punished according to the law, to preserve trust between people and protect society from chaos. We’ll have more on the Knight’s career next week.

Since Alfred’s time, Brits have had the right and responsibility to bear arms and defend themselves. This right was enshrined in their Bill of Rights. They now face a society that has grown more violent since Parliament severely curtailed their right to bear arms about ten years ago. Increased violence may be a corollary rather than a cause, but it does leave a British man or woman defenseless if attacked by criminals who, by definition, are indifferent to the laws on carrying weapons. What appears to be a grassroots effort to ecourage respect for and understanding of firearms has just begun in National Shooting Week. This shows a stunning increase in common sense on the subject. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Victoria Day was celebrated. The biography of Laurence ‘born to be an actor’ Olivier offered a vivid appreciation for life in the theatre. And the Lords became rightfully wroth with the decision of the Commons to conceal their expenses from the public though it is the public that is footing their bills. Given the steam-powered cars hitting the news today, we thought we'd look at the Infant, a steam-powered car that made successful runs on London streets 170 years ago. Scroll down for these stories or check Archives.

No matter how aggravating life sometimes is, rising from the “sofa of sloth”, as An Englishman’s Castle suggests, and taking a walk in the country has irresistible appeal. . .

May your week be good.