Here's the 13th episode of our current Tale for Our Time, Jerome K Jerome's meandering and easily diverted voyage up the Thames with Three Men in a Boat.
Thanks, as always, for your many interesting observations about this serialization. In last night's installment, we touched on the notorious Hellfire Club established by Sir Francis Dashwood, Bart, at Medmenham Abbey. We generally eschew such debaucheries in The Mark Steyn Club, so it comes as something of a shock to find that among our number are debauchees by proxy. Tim Neilson, a First Weekend Founding Member, writes from Victoria:
There are never even as many as six degrees of separation between the Mark Steyn Club and anyone!
My Father used to handle the Australian financial affairs of the 11th Baronet.
OK, so if the Hellfire Club guy was the 1st Baronet it's about 12 or 13 degrees to the 11th Baronet, my Father and me, but that's not too bad.
As I understand, Tim, the "financial affairs" of the 11th baronet, also Sir Francis Dashwood, worked out rather well for him, so I hope your dad at least got visitor's privileges at the Hellfire Club.
Tonight's episode of Three Men in a Boat is a typical mélange - banjos and bagpipes, stews and swans, plus a word on a great English pub sign that still swings in the Berkshire breeze:
Mellowed in the drowsy sunlight of a summer's afternoon, Wargrave, nestling where the river bends, makes a sweet old picture as you pass it, and one that lingers long upon the retina of memory.
The 'George and Dragon' at Wargrave boasts a sign, painted on the one side by Leslie, R.A., and on the other by Hodgson of that ilk. Leslie has depicted the fight; Hodgson has imagined the scene, 'After the Fight'—George, the work done, enjoying his pint of beer...
In the church is a memorial to Mrs. Sarah Hill, who bequeathed 1 pound annually, to be divided at Easter, between two boys and two girls who 'have never been undutiful to their parents; who have never been known to swear or to tell untruths, to steal, or to break windows.' Fancy giving up all that for five shillings a year! It is not worth it.
It is rumoured in the town that once, many years ago, a boy appeared who really never had done these things—or at all events, which was all that was required or could be expected, had never been known to do them—and thus won the crown of glory. He was exhibited for three weeks afterwards in the Town Hall, under a glass case.
The George & Dragon is one of the most popular pub names in England, but its days may be numbered. In The [Un]documented Mark Steyn (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available at the SteynOnline bookstore), there's an essay that starts off in the Middle East, and winds up in the East End:
In the 'Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets' — the heart of London's East End, where one sees more covered women than in Amman - police turn a blind eye to misogyny, Jew-hatred, and gay-bashing for fear of being damned as 'racist'. Male infidel teachers of Muslim girls are routinely assaulted. Patrons of a local gay pub are abused, and beaten, and, in one case, left permanently paralyzed.
The hostelry that has so attracted the ire of the Muslim youth hangs a poignant shingle: The George and Dragon. It's one of the oldest and most popular English pub names. Another George and Dragon just across the Thames on Borough High Street has been serving beer for at least half a millennium. But no one would so designate a public house today. The George and Dragon honors the patron saint of England, and it is the cross of St George - the flag of England - under which the Crusaders fought. They brought back the tale from their soldiering in the Holy Land: In what is now Libya, St George supposedly made the Sign of the Cross, slew the dragon, and rescued the damsel.
Within living memory, every English schoolchild knew the tale, if not all the details — e.g., the dragon-slaying so impressed the locals that they converted to Christianity. But the multicultural establishment slew the dragon of England's racist colonialist imperialist history, and today few schoolchildren have a clue about St George. So that pub in Tower Hamlets turned gay and Britain celebrated diversity, and tolerance, and it never occurred to them that, when you tolerate the avowedly intolerant, it's only an interim phase. There will not be infidel teachers in Tower Hamlets for much longer, nor gay bars.
An equally popular pub name, The Saracen's Head, seems unlikely to survive for long into this century. But for the moment St George can still enjoy a post-dragon flagon in Wargrave.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For more details, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership. I'll be hosting Part 14 of Three Men in a Boat right here tomorrow evening, just ahead of Thursday's edition of "Tucker Carlson Tonight".