Decline & Falling: Part I

For some inexplicable reason, I happily stumbled across Piers Brendon’s riveting book about the decline and fall of the British Empire this morning, so it seems appropriate to post clips each day from this provocative 2002 TWI/Carlton documentary about the same subject.

Here’s a great quote from the introduction where Brendon attempts to extricate himself from the inevitable connection to Gibbon and the unavoidable analogy the title of his book invites: “Rome was vast palimpsest of human experience, barely legible, hard to decipher, inveterately oracular.”

On a personal note, my parents were part of that wave of emigrants described in the film — something that for many years I resented deeply and still to this day have rather mixed feelings about.



Filed under History

26 responses to “Decline & Falling: Part I

  1. What do you resent? Their leaving?

  2. It may sound a bit silly, I know, but part of me wishes they hadn’t left. As a kid, I had a really difficult time reconciling myself to their decision and couldn’t help thinking about the life unlived had they not emigrated. I never shared my father’s romantic passion for the “New World” at all and suspect I would have been far more comfortable being in close proximity to Europe rather than stranded in some remote western outpost of Canada that, while it emulated England in many respects, was ersatz and completely alien to me.

  3. Ti-Guy

    I don’t know. You might feel differently about that had you grown up a working class citizen in Britain through the 70’s and 80’s. You might have turned out to be a very different person. Like Michael Coren, perhaps.

    A yob, in other words. 😉

  4. Maybe… And that’s why I don’t dwell on the subject much anymore or feel the same sense of regret that I did in past years. Better to take the attitude that it’s all for the best… Besides, it’s not like I have a time machine and can change the past.

  5. sapphireandsteel

    Lol I remember yobs in my neighbourhood putting on suits, going to the local Yates wine bar and pretending to be City boy bankers.

  6. sapphireandsteel

    oh yeah my Scottish friend flipped when she saw some of the old bank pubs of Victoria. Something to the point of “these places would be destroyed in my town”. 🙂

  7. Ti-Guy

    What’s a bank pub?

  8. The late 70s and early 80s was a ripe spawning ground here in Victoria for poseurs of all kinds. I think I know the specific place you’re referencing… The owner of that establishment was a grasping douche.

    I gravitated more towards lower Johnston St. and Market Square that was a haven at the time for would-be aesthetes and “artsy” dilettantes.

  9. Bank pub: An attractive architectural pile from the 19th century; formerly a bank, now re-purposed into a funky drinking establishment or high-end retail venue.

  10. sapphireandsteel

    ha ha good to know; only been to Victoria twice so I’ll take all the local tips I can get.
    I wonder if my friend was more impressed by the washed in the last ten years look of the pubs as compared her local. I’ve spent far more time in the Interior where the bars can get a bit more….gritty.

    Ever heard of the Sirdar Pub? Now that’s gritty and if you have been to Sirdar (or know where it is) that’s even stranger.

  11. sapphireandsteel

    Bank Pub is not yet defined:

    I don’t think it could be described any better.

  12. Ti-Guy

    I don’t go out anymore, unless it’s to a piano bar, a very quiet pub or an outdoor patio. I’m finally too old. Never really could stand the noise, anyway and nowadays, everywhere is noisy.

  13. S&S — Victoria has indeed been scrubbed and sanitized over the last 20 years. Long gone are the tacky discos, cheap swilleries, rough joints and “stinky carpet saloons” of yesteryear. The Colony, Red Lion, Ingraham (aka the “Hungry Eye” — apparently now a “Cabaret nightclub boosting Louisiana charm” whatever that might be) and so on have all fallen by the wayside, replaced by fancy wine bars, craft beer outlets, creperies, and other such poncy venues. It’s a demographic thing…

  14. BOMB file… LOL That’s priceless.

  15. sapphireandsteel

    Sad in many ways. I have a documentary about similar happenings in the UK. Pubs being closed down, broken down and reassembled into poncy wine bars in North America.

    Then again the theme pub concept of the UK is something I hope never takes off here.

    I lived near this pub in 1998 and went to it…once. It was terrifying, prices that made blood curdle even then (£2.60 a pint!) and the only marginally good thing about the entire place was that you had to press a book in the bookcase to reveal the toilets via a “hidden” door (it had signage).

    I wonder if there was a demographic for goth backpackers in my neighbourhood at the time.

  16. Heh. I was actually born in Whitby, a place that trades somewhat off the literary legacy of Bram Stoker (as readers of the book know, Dracula lands in Britain there) and its celebrated connection with Captain Cook (a replica statue of whom prominently stands in the inner harbour here…)

    Kind of an interesting mix arising from that one little place: vampires and explorers.

  17. sapphireandsteel

    Well the first North American conservatives probably were shipped in their crypts…

  18. Re: “Yobs”.

    I might slightly prefer a yob to a Western Canadian Redneck – but that is just me …

  19. sapphireandsteel

    You’ve obviously not heard what the yobs currently call “music”

  20. Okhropir rumiani

    I suppose other than your immediate family all your relatives are in the UK, Red?

  21. doesn’t really fit the definition, but it’s the place to be on st. paddy’s.


  22. I “might” slightly prefer …

  23. sapphireandsteel

    lol ATY yobism seems to have some regionalism such as Chav (Council Housed and Violent) and Ned (Non Educated Delinquent).

    They have way better names for rednecks at least. 🙂

  24. Okhropir — Both my parents were only children so we didn’t have a lot of extended family. The few relatives in the U.K. have all long since passed on.

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