Tuesday, May 11, 2010

essential Kipling

Um, yer, I know - "random snippets".

Was reading Guambat Stew and there's a post about Afghanistan. Was tempted to make the comment that 'USA is not the first "Imperial" power to get lost up the Khyber in that part of the planet' .. but that may have been a bit obscure. That then tempted me to search further and find the origins of the rhyming slang.

Didn't get all that far but found this.


Vincent said...

The origins of the rhyming slang are straightforward enough, surely? Do your readers require explanation?

I'm currently reading Kipling's The Light that Failed, which covers the attempt to save Gordon at Khartoum, but also has the following snippet from The Barrack-Room Ballads:

Then we brought the lances down, then the bugler blew
When we went to Kandahar, ridin' two by two,
Ridin', ridin', two and two,
All the way to Kandahar, ridin' two and two.

I suppose they still ride two and two to Kandahar (in armoured jeeps), but the manner of celebration is different today.

Davo said...

Vincent, you're a gem. Nah, my two or three readers will 'get it'.

Odd, though, reading 'bad' Kipling.

Try this ..

We've fought with many men acrost the seas,
An' some of 'em was brave an' some was not
The Paythan an' the Zulu an' Burmese;
But the Fuzzy was the finest o' the lot.
We never got a ha'porth's change of 'im:
'E squatted in the scrub an' 'ocked our 'orses,
'E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
An' 'e played the cat an' banjo with our forces.

So 'ere's to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your 'ome in the Soudan;
You're a pore benighted 'eathen but a first-class fightin' man;
We gives you your certificate, an' if you want it signed
We'll come an' 'ave a romp with you whenever you're inclined.

We took our chanst among the Kyber 'ills,
The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
An' a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
But all we ever got from such as they
Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
We 'eld our bloomin' own, the papers say,
But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us 'oller.

Vincent said...

Oh, Kipling was good at being bad, in more than one sense. I should add that The Light That Failed was his first novel, and a semi-autobiographical one at that, in which we gain insights into the flawed character that he was, bless 'is pore soul.

But he does capture the spirit of his age, a bit.

Another thing I have been reading, which does the same, but as recently as 1952, is Eric Linklater's memoir A Year of Space, in which the author combines a Government project to report on Korea after the end of most hostilities with a lecture tour of New Zealand and Australia. In our lifetime, David, but another era altogether! He's a damned good writer, by the way, Linklater. If I could somehow pass it on to you as a reading-book, e.g. leave a well-thumbed copy in some shack that you might find on your route, à la Tom Collins, in Such is Life, I'd gladly do so.

Vest said...

There is so much to learn by politicians from history's cock ups of the past.
Much of this if not all, I have read during my distant past. however, its re awakening I find to be an absorbing read. I shall return for a further dekko at the unread section.