Tag Archives: British Empire

The end of the United Kingdom?

In 1698 a group of Scottish businessmen established a colony in Central America, on the Isthmus of Panama. The ‘Darien Project’, named after its location on the Gulf of Darien, turned out to be a disaster – fatally so, for most of the men and women who went out there between 1698 and 1700, but a financial disaster back in Scotland as well.

A bit like the South Sea Bubble, which caused such embarrassment for investors in England a few years later, the Darien scheme had involved a lot of lowland merchants and members of the political class, and with the collapse of their investment, they faced ruin. The term ‘sovereign debt’ hadn’t been invented, but effectively, so did the Scottish nation itself.

Since 1603, when James VI of Scotland became James I of England with the death of his cousin Elizabeth Tudor, the same Protestant branch of the Stuart/Stewart dynasty had ruled both Kingdoms, but they did not yet form a United Kingdom. Continue reading

The Great Unwashed

Confession time.  I do not now, nor have I ever worn deodorant.  I’ve always disliked its smell, and the vague rumours that its aluminium content might be unhealthy.  And I don’t use antiperspirant, since it seems perverse to do so in our hot climate, where sweat serves the serious purpose of keeping our bodies cool.

Lifebuoy Soap advertisement 1902

Lifebuoy Soap advertisement 1902, from Wikipedia.

I’m lucky.  I live in a society with ample hot water, and I can bathe or shower daily – twice a day in hot weather – and wear fresh clothing every day.  This seems quite adequate – or at least, my nearest and dearest have yet to tell me otherwise.

But I never knew before that my personal habits made me un-Australian.

In this morning’s Australian, the opposition citizenship spokeswoman Teresa Gambaro has called for mandatory ‘cultural awareness training’ for immigrants, so that they can learn how to fit into Australian culture on issues such as health, hygiene and lifestyle.  Continue reading