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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Personal / CARL HALLING SELECTED WRITINGS @ Christiansunite.com Welcome Guest
    CARL HALLING SELECTED WRITINGS @ Christiansunite.com
          You've come to the right place for the writings, including stories and essays of Carl Halling, born London, currently residing in suburbia, keen to develop as a writer. Please feel free to stay awhile, read, comment, but above all...enjoy.

    Thu, Jul 22nd - 7:24PM

    The Riddle of the British English

    The Riddle of the British English

    6 DEC 09


    26 OCT 09

     In 1955, Carl Robert, the first son of Pat and Ann Halling – who also happens to be the narrator of this convoluted tale - was born at the tail end of West London’s Goldhawk Road which is a bit of a no-man’s-land inasmuch as it’s the only part of the road – prominently featured Franc Roddam’s 1979 film of the Who’s “Quadrophenia” - not to bisect Shepherds Bush, being officially in Hammersmith, but considered by some to be part of the more bourgeois area of Chiswick.
     My first home was a small workman’s cottage in Notting Hill, but by the time of my brother's birth on the 2cnd May 1958, the family had already moved to nearby Bedford Park, which while also in Chiswick according to its postcode, is part of the Southfields ward of South Acton, and presumably was then too. One thing is certain, it was part of the now defunct Borough of Acton.
     Carl was the name of my paternal grandfather, and Robert that of my mother's brother Bob, and I came into the world very much as a Briton as opposed to an Englishman...which is to not to say that I don't consider myself English, because I do. But my origins are British as opposed to strictly English...which is to say Scots-Irish, Scottish and English Canadian through my mother, and Danish Australian and English Australian through my dad, with a possible Cornish admixture coming through my paternal grandmother. Her maiden name of Pinnock is a common one in England's poorest county, and therefore of possible Brythonic Celtic origin.
     Like the Welsh and Manx of Britain, and the Bretons of France, the Cornish are of the Brythonic family of Celtic peoples, while the Scottish and the Irish are of the Gaelic. It could be therefore that I partake of both Gaelic and Brythonic Celtic ancestry.
     Whatever the truth, I'm proud of my roots in Ulster and Glasgow, both of which possess - I think it's fair to say - long-established working class traditions. The same applies to Wales and the north and midlands of England, while the south and especially the south east of England are widely seen as affluent, middle class regions, although needless to say, variations exist within all regions of the country. For example, the aforesaid Cornwall in the south west is, as I've already stated, England's poorest county, and the great metropolis of London, which is Europe's financial centre and still one of the most powerful cities in the world, contains no less than fourteen of the nation's most deprived twenty boroughs.
     What's more, while Glasgow is home to a massive working class with clearly defined Catholic and Protestant communities, Scotland's capital Edinburgh, known as the Athens of the North, has a reputation for great gentility. Yet, in common with other affluent cities throughout a nation of striking extremes of wealth and poverty, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and so on, Edinburgh contains areas of considerable deprivation...Wester Hailes, Broomhouse, Clermiston, Muirhouse, Pilton, Granton, Leith, Niddrie and Craigmillar being especially affected in this respect.
     I'm also proud of a more bourgeois English ancestry which comes through my father, who although born in the Tasmanian hinterland in Rowella and raised by a Danish father, is English through his mother Mary, whose own father was apparently what is known as a gentleman, which means he was independently wealthy, and therefore arguably part of the lower gentry. Yet, by leaving her first husband - an army officer by the name of Peter Robinson - for a Dane with no steady profession from what I can gather, she effectively cut herself off from her class and country, act which ultimately forced her out to work to support her young family, and with Carl desperately sick with the Multiple Sclerosis that would ultimately kill him.
     Yet, while I'm proud to be British, England is the country of my birth and the one I identify with in spirit despite the fact that I'm more British than English as such...indeed if anyone incarnates the riddle of what it is to be British, a citizen of a nation consisting of four nations and yet existing as one, it's me. For all that though, in the words of the famous hymn...there's another country, in which all distinctions of ethnicity and class will be a thing of the past, and whose citizens will be of one race alone, the human race, the only one created by God.

     My first school was a kind of nursery school held on a daily basis at the home of one Miss Pierce in Bedford Park, and then aged  4 years old, I joined the exclusive Lycée Francais Charles de Gaulle, situated in the fabulously opulent West London area of South Kensington, where I was to become bilingual by the age of four or thereabouts. My father was far from wealthy, but he was determined that my brother and I enjoy the best and richest education imaginable, and we were dressed in lederhosen as small boys with our heads shorn like convicts so that we be distinguished from the common run of British boys, with their short back and sides, and to this end, he worked, toiled incessantly in the tough London session world to ensure that we did. Almost every race and nationality under the sun was to be found in the Lycée in those days... and among those who went on to be good pals of mine were kids of English, French, Jewish, American, Yugoslavian and Middle Eastern origin.

     It was in this totemic decade of pop and youth culture that Pat Halling moved into the session music world, where he was to record for film, television and above all, the new popular music that had been recently sired by the Rock and Roll revolution. In the meantime, Miss Ann Watt's musical life was put on hold while she concentrated on being the mother of two small boys, while supporting her husband in his various passions, which included dinghy racing on the Thames and elsewhere. She faithfully crewed for him for many years at the Tamesis Sailing Club in Teddington, West London, where he was a member for much of the sixties, winning several racing trophies initially in a Firefly - number 1588 - while his career as a session player thrived.
     According to what Pat has told me, he worked on early sessions for British musical sensations Lulu, Cilla Black and Tom Jones, as well as with superstar producers Tony Hatch and Mickie Most. Hatch wrote most of Petula Clark's hit singles of the sixties, some alone, some with his wife Jackie Trent, and she went on to become a major star in the US as part of the so-called British Invasion of the American charts, as did several acts produced by Most, including Herman's Hermits whose angelic front man Peter Noone ensured that his band were briefly almost as popular as the Beatles stateside, and the Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan. 
     Pat became close friends with both Most and composer-arranger John Cameron, the two men who helped Donovan achieve a string of international hit records once he'd moved away from his early Folk-Protest style towards something far more Pop-oriented, starting with the psychedelic "Sunshine Superman" (1966), which was a massive stateside smash, and the first produced by Most.
     Among those session musicians who played for Most in the '60s were Big Jim Sullivan, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who also arranged for him. Page went on to join seminal British Rock band The Yardbirds, which had been managed initially by Simon Napier Bell, before being taken over by Most's business partner, Peter Grant. When the Yardbirds collapsed in 1968, the two remaining members Page and bassist Chris Dreja set about forming a new band, also to be managed by Grant. This turned out to be the New Yardbirds, which ultimately evolved into Led Zeppelin, one of the most successful Rock bands of all time, and second only to the Rolling Stones in terms of legendary darkness and mystery.
     It seems incredible that a force of such seismic power and influence as Led Zep should emerge from the relative innocence of the London Blues and session music scenes of the sixties, but then a similar thing could be said of British Rock as a whole. What was it that transformed an interest among young men of largely middle class origins in the bleak brooding music of the Blues into a musical movement which took America and the world at large by storm all throughout the '60s and beyond? That's not an easy question to answer, but I'm going to give it some sort of a go, but first we return to the birth of the New Yardbirds.
     While attempting to forge a new band to supplant the disintegrating Yardbirds, Jimmy Page's first choice as vocalist, Terry Reid, turned him down, but while he did so he recommended a young 19 year old singer from the Midlands of England known as Robert Plant for the job. Page duly travelled to Birmingham with Dreja and Grant to look the youngster over, and was impressed by what he saw. He then invited Plant to spend a few days with him at his home, the Thames Boathouse, in the beautiful little Berkshire village of Pangbourne for initial discussions related to the band...all this taking place in the summer of '68, just months before I joined the Nautical College situated a few miles from the village itself.


    The Playing Fields of Pangbourne 
    I left the Lycée in this summer...before spending a few months at a crammer called Davies Preparatory School so as to become sufficiently up to scratch academically to pass what is known as the Common Entrance Examination.
     Taking the CE is a necessity for all British boys and girls seeking entrance into private fee-paying schools, including those known as public schools, which are the traditional secondary places of learning for the British governing and professional classes...the ruling elite in other words. The vast majority of those who go on to public schools begin their academic careers in preparatory or prep schools, and so for the most part leave home at around eight years old.
     The school my father hoped I'd manage to get into was the Nautical College, Pangbourne, although I think his first choice had been either HMS Conway or Worcester, also known as the Incorporated Thames Nautical Training College. However, naval colleges and training schools were fading fast in the late 1960s, Conway being on its last legs as a so-called stone frigate on the south coast of Anglesey, and Worcester having recently been incorporated into the Merchant Navy College at Greenhithe, Kent.

      Somehow, though, I managed to pass the CE, and so at still only twelve years old became Cadet Carl Robert Halling 173, who was for a few months the youngest in the college, and an official serving officer in Britain's Royal Naval Reserve. Pangbourne's regime was tough in '68, even by the standards of British public schools which had historically trained boys for service on behalf of the Empire, and its headmaster - a serving officer in the Royal Navy for what I think was a quarter of a century – was known as the Captain Superintendent.

     I was what was known as a stroppy moosh, stroppy meaning insolent, and moosh a neophyte or new boy, as distinct from a doggie, which was the Pangbournian equivalent of the traditional public school fag, or personal servant in the so-called fagging system. In my first term, I was deemed as so transcendentally incompetent that none of the seniors, or older boys would even consider me as their doggie...and yet when it came to my stroppiness, this came ultimately to work in my favour, when I became a virtual mascot of some of the hardest and coolest boys in college.

     I idolised these lads and happily clowned for them like some kind of court minion, and they protected me in return, instilling me with a sense of invincibility which can't have had any kind of positive effect on the development of my character, which wasn't too strong to begin with. I'd go so far as to say that I wasn't born with natural backbone as perhaps some are, but that doesn't mean to say that those who lack moral fibre can't go on to develop it, nor that those who don't are not capable of losing it, because they certainly are. Am I wrong to suggest that thanks to the New Covenant established by Christ, natural born sons and daughters of Cain can go on to become the noblest of men and women, while natural born scions of Abel can degenerate into the most unspeakable monsters? Perhaps so...but one thing I am right about...I've struggled to develop character in a way my parents never did, and I'm still struggling. If anyone ever needed Christ it's me.

     By my second year, all the social standing I'd worked so hard to acquire had evaporated, as I was required to remain behind in the third form, while all my friends went on to the fourth, a reversal which exerted a devastating effect on my morale. Insecure and disaffected, I started throwing my weight around among my new classmates, until two of them came down so hard on me that I was cured of trying to act the lout with them at least. We eventually became very close friends, but I don't think they ever fully forgave me for trying it on with them, not that they ever let on about it. Actually, I jest…of course they did.

     From the outset, I desperately wanted to distinguish myself at Pangbourne...and especially at sports, beginning with the great ruffianly game for gentlemen of Rugby Football...and oh with what longing I gazed at the sight of rugger colours on the blue blazers or striped Paravicinis of those who'd earned them on the playing fields of Pangbourne. At Pangbourne, colours were - and presumably still are - awarded during one or other of the main sporting seasons of rugger, hockey, cricket and rowing and for such subsidiary sports as swimming, boxing, sailing, fencing and so on, to one showing distinction within a particular team or rowing eight or whatever, and are a long-standing tradition within British private schools and universities. Sad to say, none ever came my way.

     The fact is that, raised as I was in the western suburbs of London in the sixties with its alleys, greens, parks, sweet shops and narrow streets lined by terraced or semi-detached houses, I was wholly ignorant of the secrets of the hallowed sports of Britain's gilded elite...so ignorant in fact that by my third term, I'd got it in my head that I wanted to be a rowing coxswain, due to some crazy dream of mine of one day ending up in the 1st VIII. As things turned out, I ended up in the conspicuous yet humiliating position of coxing only lesser crews...except for on those rare occasions when a better man was unavailable. We were pretty thin on the ground we coxes.


    The Boy Who Discovered Guevara


    It would be false to assert that Pangbourne was exclusively composed of the sons of the British privileged, because it wasn't...and neither was it a narrowly Anglo-Saxon institution, because during my time I knew American, West Indian, Middle Eastern and South African cadets as well as British ones, and several of these were close friends. What's more, it was supplemented in the autumn of '68 by cadets from the recently dismantled TS Mercury, founded in 1885 by a wealthy businessman and keen yachtsman Charles Hoare for the rescue of London slum boys who would then be trained for service in the Royal and Merchant Navies. 

     Until as recently as the previous July, she'd been moored on the River Hamble near Southampton. Its regime made that of Pangbourne resemble a holiday camp in comparison. For example, there'd been no heating onboard even in winter, and the boys were forced to sleep in hammocks. Nonetheless, I was friendly with several of them, and most were not too tough, although the truth is that a degree of resilience was necessary in those days at Pangbourne, even after '69, when despite being renamed Pangbourne College, she changed little.

     As much as I struggled in the arena of sporting activities, my true failure came in the classroom where I had little if any interest in what the master was trying to teach me in any given subject except French, English and Physical Education. Terminally bored, I was constantly in trouble for one misdemeanour or another, and my grades were rarely anything other than appalling during the entire four year period I was at Pangbourne. In fact in pretty well every subject except French, I tended to be bottom of the form, term after term, year after year, and if not bottom then very near it.

     It’s my contention that I was a slow developer suffering from mild learning difficulties, and certainly there were those teachers at Pangbourne who found my behaviour medically worrying with good reason. On one occasion, I went for an eye test in the village, only to return to college without having taken it, before announcing that I’d forgotten why I’d gone into town in the first place. As for my hygiene, it was so minimal that at one point the bottoms of my feet were literally as black as soot, as if someone had painted them.

     But it would be false to say I was an unqualified rebel. In fact, I never stopped longing to be recognised as being good at something, anything...even going so far at one point as to become a member the college boxing team. As such I suffered punch-drunkenness at Eton at the hands - or should I say fists - of an elegant young adonis with a classic Eton flop who later commented on an especially cruel blow he'd inflicted on me with a certain degree of remorse, which was decent of him. But how deceptively graceful he was, this flower of Eton...king of all public schools.

     However, in around 1969, some time after having seen a TV programme about young revolutionaries who idolised Che Guevara, I became a Che acolyte myself, and one of the few genuine accolades I ever received while at college came in consequence of a short story I wrote about a young man who becomes involved with Che in his revolutionary activities in South America. Even the headmaster commended me for my work.         

     Following on from my infatuation with Che, I came to fancy myself as a full-blown Communist, covering various items with the hammer and sickle, including at various times, a school notebook, and my own hand, which provoked an older far larger boy into accusing me of being a "bloody Red bastard" - or something similar - before playfully setting about me in a spirit of mock-outrage...but he wasn't going to deter me from my chosen path: I'd fallen hard for the hard Left and that was that.

     My time at Pangbourne coincided with the counterculture being at its point of maximum intensity, which is to say between the infamous year of rioting and street fighting of 1968, and that, four years later, when the sixties really and truly came to a final close and which was defined in Britain at least by the artifice and decadence of Glam.

     One afternoon around the turbulent turn of the decade, I found myself longing to join the Hippie throngs I saw flocking to the Reading Rock Festival one afternoon from the window of a college coach in all their ragged multicoloured glory. Rebellion was everywhere in a desperately imperilled West, and Pangbourne was not exempt, in fact, many of us dreamed of a world of Bohemian freedom lying only just beyond the confines of our college, and intensely close friendships were forged smoking cigarettes in secret wooded places where the Cadet Officers couldn't find us, and where we were united by a love of Rock music and its icons…Hendrix, Morrison, Jagger, Page et al, their defiantly androgynous clothes, their floating, flouting hair and so on.

     Yet for all that, there was a part that never stopped wanting to be accepted by the system...never stopped hoping that one day, favour would look kindly on Cadet CR Halling 173, and he'd be promoted to Cadet Officer, and so given a star to proudly display on the right sleeve of his navy blue pullover, but it was never to be..never to be...never to be...Minor edits: 7/3/13

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    Thu, Jul 22nd - 12:59PM

    The Tragedy of Phyllis Mary Pinnock

     Thumbnail for version as of 23:06, 17 June 2008Thumbnail for version as of 23:31, 1 August 2008Thumbnail for version as of 23:06, 17 June 2008Thumbnail for version as of 23:31, 1 August 2008Thumbnail for version as of 23:06, 17 June 2008   

    The Tragedy of Phyllis Pinnock

    My father Patrick “Pat” Halling was born in Australia…in Rowella in the beautiful Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania on the 28th of August 1924…but largely raised in Sydney, the son of an Englishwoman, Phyllis Mary Pinnock, who I always knew as Mary, and a Dane by the name of Carl Halling.
     Mary had been born into a middle – or upper middle – class family sometime towards the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century, possibly in the Dulwich area of South East London, and according to my father's account, her first true love David was a scion of the Wilson Line of Hull which had developed into the largest privately owned shipping firm in the world in the early part of the century. Tragically, he perished during the First World War like so many young men immortalised in all too many cruelly beautiful poems. She subsequently married an officer in the British army, the aforesaid Peter Robinson, and they had two children, Peter Bevan, who went on to become a successful cellist, and Suzanne, known as Dinny.
     When her children were little more than infants, she elected to join her husband - who was presumably no longer in the army - as a tea planter in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and it was on that breathtakingly beautiful island, in a tough and typically isolated environment that she met the two men, tea planters like herself, who were destined to become her second and third husbands. They were my namesake Carl Halling, a Danish devotee of Eastern mysticism and fluent Sanskrit speaker, and a quiet British engineer called Christopher Evans.
     While still in Ceylon, she became pregnant with her third child, and soon after having done so, she mysteriously took off with Carl to Tasmania, where the child was born Patrick Clancy Halling, to be raised as Carl’s son…but in the great city of Sydney - rather than the Tasmanian backwoods - where they lived in a predominantly Irish Catholic neighbourhood. It was in Sydney that Carl contracted the multiple sclerosis that would ultimately kill him, after which according to family accounts, Mary made a living variously as a journalist - writing for the Sydney Telegraph - and teacher, even running her own primary school for a time, but it was hard for her. One blessing was that all three of her children were exceptionally gifted musically, Patrick as a violinist, Peter as a cellist and Suzanne as a pianist, but of all of them Pat was the only borderline prodigy. At just eight years old, he won a scholarship to the Sydney Conservatory of Music, soloing for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra a year later. However, he reserved his true passion for the water, this love of the sea and ships and specifically sailing being a legacy from Mary, who spent much of her adult life by the sea.
     Soon after Carl’s death on the eve of the second world war, Mary and her family set off for Denmark, Carl having wished to be buried in his native country, and then to London where Pat studied both at the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under the tutelage of the great Austrian violinist Max Rostal. He joined the London Philharmonic 0rchestra while still a teenager during the Blitz on London during which he served in the Sea Cadets as a signaller, seeing action as such on the hospital ships of the Thames River Emergency Service, which, formed in 1938, lasted for three years, using converted Thames pleasure steamers as floating ambulances or first aid stations.
     With Mary and her three children back in London, evidently some kind of reconciliation took place between herself and her family, which included financial aid. Given that her father had been what is known as a gentleman, meaning that he was independently wealthy, it’s probable that she’d been born into that part of the upper middle class known as the lower gentry. However, by abandoning her first husband for another man it may be that she irrevocably cut herself off from that hallowed social class.
     In this one respect, she was somewhat akin to the mother of “Kind Hearts and Coronets” anti-hero Louis Mazzini, who suffers ostracism at the hands of her aristocratic family for the social crime of marrying an Italian opera singer, which is to say out of her social caste. Following the untimely death of her husband, she enters a state of deep mourning for the decision that wrecked her life, and after her own early death, passes her pathological preoccupation with social position onto her only child, who goes on to effectuate a terrible revenge on the class that rejected her.
     Needless to say, nothing anywhere near as dramatic or violent as the fate of the Mazzinis of the pitch black Ealing comedy afflicted my own family, and my father went on to become - not a psychopath - but a successful professional musician and family man. However, as I say, the comparison can to some degree be made, and my own father occasionally spoke of a supposed distant connection to aristocracy to me when I was a young man. On at least one occasion, he did so as a means of boosting my morale by convincing me that my destiny was that of a scholar and athlete, one born for great things if you will.
     A further comparison can be made to the mother of the great American Method actor Montgomery Clift, whose extraordinary physical beauty and magnetism constitute the very quintessence of the ideal of the aristocratic WASP Prince. Although born into a fairly humble middle class family, Clift was a scion of the southern aristocracy according to his mother Ethel “Sunny” Clift. She herself had reason to believe she was the illegitimate daughter of Woodbury Blair, son of one-time Lincoln Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair, and a great-granddaughter of Francis Preston Blair, a journalist and adviser to President Jackson, and Levi Woodbury, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Monty and his twin sister and elder brother Brooks were duly raised as if to the manor born, and educated in French, German and Italian.
     Like Sunny Clift with her three children, Phyllis Mary Pinnock instilled it into my father that he was descended from a lost branch of an aristocratic family. I never fully believed her story until one day in the 1980s, while my family was being paid a visit by Mary’s younger sister Joan and her husband Eric, I surreptitiously placed a cassette tape recorder close to her chair during lunch or dinner, knowing that one or other of my parents would quiz her as to the veracity of Mary’s tales of the longstanding mystery of Ormonde.
     If my memory serves me aright, among the truths she revealed about our family that day was that Joan and Mary’s paternal great grandfather had been a coachman by trade and been left an enormous sum of money by a grateful employer, extraordinary act of philanthropy which introduced money into the family for the first time. Another was that her maternal grandmother’s maiden name had been Butler, which allegedly links the family to the Butlers of Ormond, a dynasty of Anglo-Norman nobles named after the Earldom they went on to rule in Munster, Ireland, although Walter was the name by which they were first known. Detailed historical background on the Butler dynasty follows in part two.

    The Mystery of Ormonde

    The Butler saga begins in earnest with the Norman Invasions of Ireland, which took place in 1169 on the orders of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, one of five kingdoms of pre-Norman Ireland.
     Having established this fact, it behooves me to ask the question...who precisely were these Normans who went on to create one of the most powerful monarchies in Europe and whose territorial conquests would ultimately include – in addition to Ireland - England, Scotland, Wales, Southern Italy and the island of Sicily? Largely Nordic, they are in fact believed to have been of mixed Viking, Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock, a mixture which evidently produced an instinct towards elitism and dominance.
     The Norman conquest of England had occurred - famously - in 1066 AD with William the Conqueror’s success at the Battle of Hastings, which resulted in Norman control of England, and the introduction into the country of the Norman aristocracy, whereby the Normans replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England and became part of a single French-speaking culture with lands on both sides of the channel. It also changed the English language and her culture forever while producing a sporadic but fierce rivalry with France, who became her bitterest enemy, remaining so for centuries. In his 1842 poem "Lady Clara Vere de Vere", Alfred Lord Tennyson makes the valid point that "Kind hearts are more than coronets, And simple faith than Norman blood." This of course inspired the film "Kind Hearts and Coronets" which I mentioned earlier with regard to my own family. What the poem was alluding to was the specifically Norman nature of the English aristocracy. Back to the Emerald Isle…
     By the fateful year of 1169, Ireland - a land once given over to the ancient Celtic faith of Druidry and the worship of the Sidhe or Faery Folk - was profoundly Christian, despite a remnant of paganism. Nonetheless, an invasion had already been authorised by the first – and only - English Pope Adrian IV in 1155, decision which occasioned centuries of English dominance and Irish misery. MacMurrough had been forced into exile in 1166 by a coalition of forces led by the High King of Ireland Rory O'Connor, and had fled…allegedly to Bristol first...and then to France.  There are various accounts of what happened next, but it’s certain he asked Henry II, first English King of the Norman House of Plantagenet, for help in regaining his kingdom. Henry offered his support, after which MacMurrough began recruiting allies in Wales, Richard de Clare, the man known as Strongbow, foremost among them. Poor Ireland was thence earmarked for invasion from England.
     In 1167, he returned to Ireland with a small army of mercenaries, but it wasn’t until 1169 that a full-scale invasion by the Anglo-Normans and their Welsh and Flemish allies - and led by Strongbow - got under way. Contemporary accounts apparently refer to the invaders as English, although they have also been described as Anglo-Norman, Cambro-Norman and Anglo-French. The Flemish contingent was culled largely from those Flemings who’d arrived in Britain with William I, and had been settled in Wales by Henry I, to be perceived by the hostile Welsh as English. Also believed to have taken part in the invasion was one Theobald Walter, patriarch of the Butlers of Ormond.
     Two years afterwards, Henry II set foot in Ireland, the first English King to do so, and so High Kingship was brought to an end, to be replaced by over 750 years of English rule. Henry was an ancestor of future generations of Butlers, and a grandson of William the Conqueror, which may provide a kinship with the mysterious Merovingian dynasty of Frankish Kings. When Henry's son with Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the future King John of England Prince John arrived in Ireland in 1185, he was accompanied by Theobald Walter, and as his father had been Butler of England, he was appointed Butler of Ireland and given a portion of land in eastern Munster that would become known as Ormond. Hence the name, the Butlers of Ormond.
     Theobald wed Maud le Vavasour around 1200, and they had one son, Theobald le Botiller, 2cnd Baron Butler (1200-1230), whose son with Joan du Marais married Margery de Burgh, a descendant of both Dermot McMurrough and the legendary Brian Boru, thereby bringing royal Gaelic blood into the Butler bloodline. One of their grand-children James Butler was appointed Earl of Ormond in 1328. He’d been born to yet another Theobald and the beautiful Eleanor de Bohun, grand-daughter of Edward I of the House of Plantagenet…also known as the Angevins from their origins in Anjou, France. Dubbed The Hammer of the Scots, he was the Anglo-Norman monarch who'd had Scottish landowner Sir William Wallace executed in 1305 for having led a resistance during the Wars of Scottish independence.
     The Earldom of Ormond was created for Theobald's grandson, James Butler, son of Sir Edmund and Lady Joan Fitzgerald in 1328. Through their issue all subsequent Earls of Ormonde were descended. The 7th Earl, Thomas Butler was the great-grandfather of Anne and Mary Boleyn. On his death, Piers Roe Butler became the 8th Earl, but as the King wanted the Earldom of Ormond for Thomas Boleyn, father of Anne and Mary, Piers resigned his claim in 1528. Ten years later, it was restored to him, heralding the title's third creation. By this time, England had become a Protestant nation, and the Anglican faith established in Ireland as the state religion, despite the fact that the vast majority of the people were Catholic.
     Years of vicious feuding between Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond - known as the Black Earl - and his own mother's family the Fitzgeralds, culminated in a victory for the Butlers in 1565 at the Battle of Afane. which helped provoke the Desmond Rebellions of 1569-73 and 1579-83, the second of which was bolstered by hundreds of Papal troops. Defeated by the Elizabethan Armies and their Irish allies - Court favourites the Butlers predominant among them - they were succeeded by the first English Plantations carried out in a devastated Munster.

    Of the Supposed Superiority of Nobility

    In 1609 the first Ulster Plantation came into being in the wake of the Nine Years War which was largely fought in Ulster, the island's most Gaelic region, between Ulster chieftains and their Catholic allies, including in 1601-1602, 6000 Spanish soldiers sent by Phillip II, and the Protestant Elizabethan government. The routing of the Ulster Earls and their allies led to the famous Flight of the Earls to Europe, the end of the Gaelic Clan system, and the colonization of Ulster by English and Scottish Protestants.
     As for the Earldom of Ormond, the fifth Earl of its third creation James Butler was placed in command of English government forces based in Dublin following The Irish Rebellion of 1641, which was an uprising by the Old English Catholic gentry who had become more Irish than the Irish themselves. Most of the country was taken by the Catholic rebels, whose leader was the Duke's own cousin Richard Butler, 3rd Viscount Mountgarret, and in time it evolved into a conflict between the native Irish and the newly arrived Protestant settlers from Britain which resulted in the massacre of thousands of Protestants, the precise number being a matter of much debate.
     A year later, with the English Civil War (1641-1651) under way, Ormonde, who was a Royalist sympathizer, despatched an estimated 4000 troops to England to fight for King Charles I of the Scottish House of Stuart against the English Calvinist Roundheads under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell, and was made Lord Lieutenant of Ireland by Royal Appointment in 1643. By 1649, Ireland had become a stronghold of support for the King with Ormonde in overall charge of the Royalist forces and Irish Confederation of native Gaels and Old English Catholics, all of which had the effect of attracting the attention of Cromwell and his New Model Army. Ormonde attempted to thwart the English Puritan invaders by holding a line of fortified towns across the country, but their leader defeated them one after the other, beginning in 1649 with the Siege of Drogheda.
     In the summer of 1650, following a long series of humiliating defeats for the Irish, Ormonde, having been deserted by Protestants and Catholics alike, was urged to leave the country by the Catholic clergy, which he promptly did, seeking refuge in Paris with the exiled Charles II. On the Restoration of the Stuart Monarchy in 1660, James Butler was showered with honours by the new King of England, Scotland and Ireland and was made Duke of Ormonde in the peerage of Ireland in the spring of '61.
     Eight year later, he fell from favour as a result, allegedly, of courtly intrigue on the part of Royal favourite James Villiers, the 2cnd Duke of Buckingham. In 1671, an attempt was made on his life by an Irish adventurer named Thomas Blood, but Ormonde escaped, convinced that Buckingham had put him up to it, but nothing was ever proven. In 1682, he became Duke of Ormonde in the peerage of England, dying four years later in Dorset, and soon after his death, a poem was published which celebrated his great nobility of character, an essential decency that was never compromised.
     One of his sons, the 2cnd Duke of Ormonde, commanded a regiment at the Battle of the Boyne under William of Orange, and took part in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. His son was the third and final Duke of Ormonde. The Earldom, however, lasted until the end of the 20th Century, becoming dormant in October 1997 with the death of James Butler the 7th Marquess of Ormonde, who had two daughters, but no sons. It may be that I’m a distant relative of theirs…and if so, then I'm also related to many perhaps even all of the most blue-blooded families not just in Europe but the entire world.
     In the end though, while the Bible upholds the authority of parents and the instruments of the state as a means of controlling Man's innate depravity, while appealing to his hierarchical instincts and deep-seated desire for order and structure, all hierarchies erected by Man in order that one section of society might feel superior to another, whether on the basis of class, race, skin colour or some other false Man-made distinction, are antichrist, because all human beings are created equal in the sight of God. The tragic fact is that those who might consider themselves to be natural-born aristocrats by virtue of nobility of birth or enormous wealth, or physical beauty or intellectual or artistic ability are - or so it has been asserted - less likely to turn to Christ than those who come from backgrounds of brokenness or poverty. So much for the supposed superiority of nobility. History simply doesn't attest to it.

    Warning: This story may not have been published on the date specified, thence the number of views will be inaccurate. Further minor edits: 7/3/13.

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    Thu, Jul 22nd - 11:47AM

    The Coming of the Absaloms

    O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!


    12 NOV 09

    Thumbnail for version as of 23:45, 29 June 2008Thumbnail for version as of 11:56, 23 April 2006Thumbnail for version as of 23:45, 29 June 2008Thumbnail for version as of 13:36, 5 December 2006Thumbnail for version as of 11:56, 23 April 2006Thumbnail for version as of 05:31, 19 May 2005Thumbnail for version as of 23:45, 29 June 2008


    When it comes to the key events that helped to create the society that emerged in the American/Western World in the wake of the Second World War - arguably the most traumatic event in history - many would be inclined to cite the 1950s as the fulcrumic decade, and according to Charles Ealy, author of the article"Seeds of Change Sown in 1955", published in Nov. 2005 in The Dallas Morning News, that's especially true of its midpoint.

     For all that, though, it's the mythic 1960s, with its Rock-Youth culture, and quasi-religious worship of sexual abandon and the use of mind-expanding drugs, that tends to be credited as the true decade of change, and with the reader's permission, I'd like to trace the evolution of the most revolutionary decade of the 20th Century, by briefly depicting the culture whence it sprang, and then - and at greater length - the decade that both preceded and birthed it, with special emphasis on its central year of '55.


    Were they really so staid and conformist, those much treasured mom-and-apple-pie fifties? We've already established that they weren't, and that they didn't yield as if by magic to the wild, Dionysian 1960s…

     The truth is that far from being a sudden, unexpected event, the post-war cultural revolution, whose repercussions continue to be felt throughout a tragic broken West could boast historical roots reaching at least as far back as the European Enlightenment. Since that time, the Western World has been consistently assailed by tendencies hostile to its Judaeo-Christian moral fabric, and what happened in the 1960s was simply the culmination of many decades of activity on the part of revolutionaries and avant-gardists, especially since the First World War. Even Rock, a music which the celebrated American evangelist John MacArthur once described as having “a bombastic atonality and dissonance” was foreshadowed at its most experimental by the emancipation of the dissonant brought about by Classical composers of various Modernist schools.

     Moving to the totemic year of '55, I begin with a day marked by an event which had a colossal if still largely unrecognised influence on the evolution of American and Western culture, that being the 7th of October, on which five major 20th Century figures, namely, Elijah Muhammad, RD Laing, Ulriche Meinhof, Oliver North and Vladimir Putin, attained the ages of 58, 28, 21, 14 and 3 respectively.

     It was on that day that - at San Franciso's Six Gallery at 3119 Fillmore Street - about 150 people gathered to witness readings of poems by Allen Ginsberg, Phillip Whalen, Phillip Lamantia, Michael McClure and Gary Snyder.

     All went on to be leading artists of the Beat Generation, a term which first saw the light of day in a 1952 article entitled "This is the Beat Generation", written for the New York Times by John Clellon Holmes, author of the proto-Beat novel "Go" (1952). Holmes had allegedly coined the term following conversations he'd had with Jack Kerouac in 1948 with regard to the disillusioned generation that had emerged in America in the wake of the Second World War. 

     Kerouac the self-styled "shy Canuck" from Lowell, Massachusetts, also attended this epochal clarion cry to the counterculture, but didn't read, preferring to cheerlead instead in a state of ecstatic inebriation. However, his roman à clef "On the Road" (1957) which centres on the mid-century wanderings he undertook in America and Mexico - largely with his muse and close friend Neal Cassady - remains Beat's defining work. 

     After the reading, the Beat movement, which had existed in embryonic form since about 1944, left the underground to become an international craze, with the Beatnik taking his place as a universally recognised icon with his beret, goatee beard, turtle-neck sweater and sandals.
     '55 was also the year in which Rock and Roll assaulted the mainstream thanks to hits by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and others, although it's "The Blackboard Jungle", which, released on the 20th of March, is widely credited with igniting the Rock' n' Roll revolution, indeed late 20th Century teenage rebellion as a whole. It did so by featuring Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock Around the Clock", over the film's opening credits. Originally a rather conventional blues-based song recorded by Sonny Dae and his Knights, Haley's version, which was remarkable for its earth-shaking sense of urgency, ensured the world would never be the same after it. In August of the year, Sun Records released a long playing record entitled "Elvis Presley, Scotty and Bill", featuring the so-called King of the Western Bop who went on to become Rock's single most influential figure apart from the Beatles.
     On the 30th of September, James Dean died in hospital following a motor accident aged 23 after having made only three films, the greatest of which, Nicholas Ray's "Rebel Without a Cause" emerged about a month afterwards. It could be said to be the motion picture industry's defining elegy to the sensitivity and rebelliousness of youth, with Dean its most beautiful and tortured icon ever. As such his image has never dated, nor been surpassed. The modern cult of youth was born in the mid 1950s.

     However, Dean himself had been powerfully influenced by Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando, arguably the two foremost pioneers of the Stanislavski Method within the Motion Picture industry, who'd honed their craft in the late '40s at the celebrated Actor's Studio in New York City. The screen personas of Clift, Brando and Dean, in which vulnerability and defiance were fused to luminously magnetic effect served as prototypes of the neurotic and narcissistic individualism that went on to exert such a seismic influence on the evolution of the sixties counterculture in era-defining movies such as George Stevens'  "A Place in the Sun" (1951), Stanley Kramer's "The Wild One" (1953), and Elia Kazan's "East of Eden" (1954)

     Their mixture of incandescent beauty and sullen defiance was hardly new though, having been a feature of Romantic rebels again and again at least since the heyday of Byron and Shelley; and it could be said that their true spiritual ancestor was none other than King David's much loved yet fatally rebellious son Absalom, of whom it was written in 2 Samuel 14:25: But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.”

     Again and again, 1955 is cited by cultural commentators as the year in which things started to change in America and the West. When it comes to Britain, there seems to be no doubt that within the space of a mere two generations, a spectacular rise in criminal violence from the low rates of at least the previous two centuries, occurred from about 1955. This same rise coincided with increasingly large-scale denigration of such traditionally sanctified Christian institutions as marriage, pre-marital purity and the two-parent family, which had always been seen as the enemy by various revolutionary tendencies within art and politics, while being respected by the majority, and affected every industrial nation apart from Japan.

     As in Britain, so in the US, but given America's far greater size and complexity, the situation has of necessity been more extreme. Take a remarkable article written for the Fall/Autumn 1955 edition of the Trotskyist Fourth International entitled "Youth in a Delinquent Society":

     Its author, one Joyce Cowley, was at pains to emphasize the general conformity of American youth in the mid 1950s, while also making it clear that cautious conservatism was far from being the total picture, and that there'd been a sharp rise in crime since the onset of the decade. She also stated something to the effect that the nature of the crimes committed during this period were of a shocking gravity that had been relatively uncommon in the US in more recent decades. To support her point, she alluded to various phenomena which are all too familiar to those of us who came to maturity in the 60s and beyond, including the abuse of narcotics, and acts of gratuitous cruelty and violence, from teen gang rumbles to the senseless sacrifice of innocents.

     But does all this mean that civilisation, not just in the US and the West, but as a whole, is irrevocably doomed? Many Christians are indeed of the belief that these are the final days prior to the return of the Lord, of which He speaks in Matthew 24:37: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.” They may indeed be right, and there are many indications that this is the case. However, in the verse immediately preceding the one just quoted, Jesus makes it clear that when it comes to the precise day of the Second Coming, only God the Father knows: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”

     Thence, it may well be that if the nations of the West return to the Judaeo-Christian values on which they were founded, not half-heartedly...but with the kind of uncompromising passion for God that provoked the great revivals of history, like prodigals, broken and contrite in spirit, our great civilisation may yet survive.

    This essay was based on portions of the story “The Gambolling Baby Boomer”, chapter one of “Rescue of a Rock and Roll Child", and was composed in a spirit of truth and integrity to the best of my ability.  Minor edits: 7/3/13.

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    Name: Carl Halling
    ChristiansUnite ID: carlhalling
    Member Since: 2008-07-01
    Location: London, United Kingdom
    Denomination: Born Again Christian
    About Me: Born Again Bible Believing Christian Writer, Actor, Singer, Songwriter. Born London. Born Again 1993.

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