April 22, 2003

Sorry there was no blog

Sorry there was no blog yesterday. Today I’m late getting this together, because once again Mrs Holford wanted to watch a film. Instead of trip to Blockbuster, this was the film we had ordered for my father-in-law for his birthday. In a family tradition that goes back as long as I can remember – probably three years or more – we watched the present before giving it away.

We saw We Were Soldiers, the 2001 Vietnam War picture starring Mel Gibson. The blurb on the back says, “Makes Saving Private Ryan look like Dad’s Army”. [For the Americans, Dad’s Army is an old sitcom about mostly old men serving in the Home Guard in WWII.] I don’t know if it was that gorier or more intense, but it was not filmed for the faint of heart. However, it is a very good movie, and based upon a true story. Parts of it are quite tear jerking (says the man who has never required excessive force to produce an effusion of tears) and I recommend it.

Now for something not Based on a True Story…

It is reported in The Times today “Urgent repairs to medieval stonework at the Tower of London have been postponed while a mock dungeon has been created to display instruments of torture that were almost certainly never used at the Tower.” I hate when they do this. Not the delaying of repairs – though that is deplorable, too. I hate when they make up history. I despise and abhor when they do it to make a buck. Or a pound. Or bucks that have been converted into pounds at the airport.

This new exhibition, called “Torture at the Tower” is set to be a permanent fixture, like the ravens, the beefeaters, and the Crown Jewels. The tourists are being suckered in with “promises that visitors will learn how ‘over the centuries, hundreds of prisoners suffered and died’ and see ‘replicas of a range of torture instruments known to have been used on unfortunate traitors in the Tower’.” People want gore, and by golly they will get gore.

There doesn’t seem to be any mention of the fact that torture was only ever used at the Tower, and then rarely, under the Tudors. Even then, in the 16th and 17th centuries there were only seven executions there.

He says it’s not based on a true story…

George Galloway, friend of the former Iraqi regime, is suing the Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph claims to have documents recovered from the looted Foreign Ministry showing that the member for Baghdad Central received at least £375,000 a year from oil earnings. According to the Daily Telegraph, “A confidential memorandum sent to Saddam by his spy chief said that Mr Galloway asked an agent of the Mukhabarat secret service for a greater cut of Iraq's exports under the oil for food programme.”

This is not one little article, like the Hot Cross Buns story. The Daily Telegraph seems to have all it ducks in a row. They even printed the contents of the documents in question translated into English, with photos of the originals in Arabic. I would guess they anticipated that Galloway would sue, which he immediately announced he was doing.

The Times reports that the allegations are being taken seriously by the Labour Party. They will be investigated by the general secretary of the party, who is already looking into comments made by Galloway before and during the recent hostilities, such as branding Tony Blair and George Bush “wolves” and encouraging British troops to disobey orders.

Posted by david at April 22, 2003 10:53 PM