Tuesday, 26 May 2015

12 days to save England

Dan Snow is a young man who wants to be a historian. His principal qualifications appear to be that he is the son of someone famous and that he can sail a small yacht competently - at least on camera. The BBC uses him to introduce actual experts (who are mostly quite good) and to fill in some basic second-form history for the benefit of terminally stupid viewers. He's also in charge of gimmicks such as CGI in which ships' flags fly the wrong way. Still, he's a well set up young man and I expect he has his own fan club at least amongst the Friends of Dorothy. Of Howard he says on camera rather shamefacedly "to be honest he got the job on the basis of his aristocratic pedigree rather than his naval fighting skills". A bottle of NV for whoever put that line in young Snow's script. 

Dr Sam Willis and Professor Saul David are amongst the actual real historians who provide the sensible grown up stuff without any of the camp hissiness of perhaps the greatest of our Tudor queens, David Starkey. Actually, I'd welcome Dave as I like to call him leading the commentary on that other 12 days to save England - Cameron's current whirlwind tour of European leaders. His candid comments on Merkel and Hollande would be unmissable. 

This is the sort of stuff the BBC do best - though this is three times as long as it need usefully be. Some decent editing, getting rid of the crap gimmicks used to keep those with 20 second attention spans watching and sending young Snow to a university somewhere to do some actual research for seven years or so and get himself a doctorate (which would be cheaper than at present - though it wouldn't keep him in saily boats) would all be improvements.  
Magical Spanish bi-directional wind


Anonymous said...

Even if they could make the wind blow in two directions....In a flash, they had to get to be good sailors all of a sudden, the Spanish navy had to circumnavigate the British Isles and in the end proved that they weren't very good sailors, for not many made it back.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Anon: well I dunno. I reckon circumnavigating the British Isles in 16th-century sailing ships, without using the Caledonian Canal, with no shore support and no modern nav aids, was a bit of a tall order.

It's easy to call them "not very good sailors", but have you sailed through the Pentland Firth or The Minch, in any kind of sailing vessel? I'm guessing not.

It's pretty impressive that any of them made it back, frankly.

Billy Marlene said...

Although I am no fan, to be fair, he did get a First in History from Balliol as well as rowing three Boat Races. I am not sure that a media Daddy or £8.5bn worth of Daddy in Law could have influenced much of that.

Contrast with the Charlatan 'Lord' Archer who did even better with only an invented Oxbridge degree and a criminal record to boot.

Anonymous said...

No, I apologize to those pretty darn good and brave Spanish sailors, they were able seafaring men, and by all accounts they met some pitiless and atrocious weather [what else?]. Aye, it is to their pious, pompous leaders that my real contempt should be reserved, who wanted to invade Britain - from Spain - it was mad and mind blowing religious fundamentalism.......... May God help us, for that mutual foe of the British and Spanish increasingly looks like the Moors will be more successful a second time around, we must be allies now with the Spanish notwithstanding the Gibraltar situation.

[...]"but have you sailed through the Pentland Firth or The Minch, in any kind of sailing vessel?" [...]

Why, I beseech you...... would any idiot want to do that? ;-)

Though, one has to marvel at those dogs of the sea, their navigational skills and general marine prowess, of the Vikings and thousands of years ere that - the ancients who plied their trade and wares all over the British Isles and to and fro from Europe and beyond that to India and the orient [but in stages admittedly].

Demetrius said...

This is on our box waiting to view. But oh Zeus, not ever such rude word deleted Starkey again? Please can someone do a BBC history programme without him?

Raedwald said...

Demetrius - rest assured it's a Starkey-free zone so far; I suspect the Great One doesn't work with amateurs, children or dogs.

G. Tingey said...

There is, presumably some BBC programme about the Armada?
LINK or hints please?
Which channel?

Raedwald said...

Greg apols - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search?q=Armada%3A%2012%20Days%20to%20Save%20England

G. Tingey said...

Got it ..
I found the researched papers, showing Alcalde's "correct" (from his p o v ) idea was over-ruled by Medina Sidonia's adherence to orders a fascinating piece.
Also the Spanish WANTED to go direct to the Netherlands & the English WANTED to "drive" them up the Channel - though, of course the former didn't want to take damage & losses.

There is still a masterly book on the subject:
The Defeat of the Spanish Armada by G Mattingly
Read it!

James Higham said...

I always find it puzzling, Weekend Yachtsman, why people assume square-riggers can't go to wind - they can, to about 80 degrees from irons. Of course, the Vikings did it better, dragging the tack round to the windward side and letting the sail form a curve. Bottom line though is that they could tack and they did know about leeboards in those days.