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I have started in recently on Robert Harvey’s Clive: The Life And Death Of A British Emperor, a biography of the man who founded the British Raj in India.

In an early chapter, Harvey describes Clive’s first voyage to India as a 17 year old clerk in the employ of John Company.  According to Harvey, Clive sailed in a 500 ton barque called the Winchester.

I could not help noticing that during his description of Clive’s passage, Harvey calls the Winchester a boat instead of a ship.  This I put down to sloppy editing because it only occurs in a couple of places, and he does refer to her as a ship elsewhere.

On the other hand, I also noted Harvey’s consistent failure to use feminine pronouns when speaking of the Winchester.  Instead of “she” and “her,”  he uses “it” and “its.”  This I find profoundly disturbing.  Is it a symptom of PC sensibilities?  Or is it a manifestation of a lack of interest in or respect for nautical traditions? 

I can hardly suppose that a fellah setting out to write a sympathetic biography of Lord Clive, of all people, would give a wet slap about being politically correct, so I can only assume that Mr. Harvey is just a lubber.  

Either way, though, after noticing this clunker I couldn’t help becoming more suspicious of and slightly hostile toward the author altogether.

Although we do not take it in regularly, this week’s edition of People magazine somehow appeared at the Port Swillers’ residence.   Finding it in the basket of reading materials in the downstairs loo, I idly picked it up and started flipping pages.


I know that I am out of touch with “popular” culture, but I had no real idea I was that much out of touch.  Who on earth are these people?  What, exactly, does any of them actually do?  And why are they all dressed up as pimps and skanks, anyway?  How exactly is their peculiar mixture of glitter and sleaze meant to lift the human spirit?

I shudder to think there are millions of people out there who actually believe celebrity chic to be a good thing.

Frankly, I couldn’t take more than a couple minutes of it, instead reaching for the ol’ Calvin & Hobbes.


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September 2009