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How to destroy a reputation The art of character assassination has ancient roots

Anthony Hopkins in The Human Stain (2003)

Anthony Hopkins in The Human Stain (2003)


April 20, 2023   4 mins

I am at the home of a psychopath. Here on the easternmost point of the island of Capri, the ancient ruins of the Villa Jovis still cling to the summit of the mount­ain. This was the former residence of the Emperor Tiberius, who retired here for the last decade of his life in order to indulge in what Milton described as “his horrid lusts”. He conducted wild orgies for his nymphs and catamites. He forced children to swim between his thighs, calling them his “little fish”. He raped two brothers and broke their legs when they complained. He threw countless individuals to their deaths from a precipice looming high over the sea.

That these stories are unlikely to be true is beside the point; Tiberius’s reputation has done wonders for the tourist trade here on Capri. The historians Suetonius and Tacitus started the rumours and, with the help of successive generations of sensationalists, established a tradition that was to persist for almost two millennia.

All of which serves as a reminder that reputations can be constructed and sustained on the flimsiest of foundations. Suetonius and Tacitus were writing almost a century after the emperor’s death, and many of their lurid stories were doubtless echoes of those circulated by his most spiteful enemies. Or perhaps it’s simply a matter of prurience. Who can deny that the more lascivious and outlandish acts of the Roman emperors are by far the most memorable? One thinks immediately of Caligula having sex with his siblings and appointing his horse as consul. Or Nero murdering his own mother, and taking a castrated slave for his bride, naming him after the wife he had kicked to death. For all their horror, who doesn’t feel cheated when such tales turn out to be false?

Our reputations are changelings: protean shades of other people’s imaginations. More often than not, they are birthed from a combination of uninformed prejudice and wishful thinking. And we should be in no doubt that in our online age, when lies are disseminated at lightning speed and casual defamation has become the activist’s principal strategy, reputations are harder to heal once tarnished.

I am tempted to feel pity for future historians. Quite how they will be expected to wade through endless reams of emails, texts, and other digital materials — an infinitude of conflicting narratives and individual “truths” — really is beyond me. At least when there is a dearth of primary sources it is possible to piggyback onto a firm conclusion. “Suetonius said…” has a satisfactory and definitive air, but only because there are so few of his contemporary voices available to contradict him.

As the culture war rumbles on, and I have found myself ostracised by former friends who now interpret even minor political disagreements as evidence of malevolence, I have learned that reputation is invariably a form of fiction. One such friend used to complain endlessly about a certain conservative commentator, asserting that he was a mendacious hatemonger whose every action was motivated by contempt for marginalised communities. These ideas were so frequently repeated in conversation, and confirmed by others within our circle, that I had no doubt they must be true. Imagine my confusion, then, when I eventually became well acquainted with this man, and found him to be both generous and empathetic. It’s like meeting Beelzebub and finding that he has been secretly baking cupcakes for the poor.

The same sense of bewilderment has struck me whenever I have happened upon bad-faith critics attempting to summarise my views. I have been variously described as “far-Right”, “bigoted”, “racist”, “sexist” and even “homophobic”. Of course, I would not expect total strangers to know my mind, but given that my actual opinions are freely available to anyone with a search engine, it does feel odd to be so wildly mischaracterised.

I am not alone in this. That false narratives can be more powerful than reality is, of course, the reason why our opponents so readily resort to distortions and smears. A colleague recently alerted me to one of the more bizarre hit pieces that has been written about me in an online magazine. The strategy was at least novel: the writer had contacted former students from my time as a teacher in order to trawl for unflattering anecdotes. According to one account, I had sent a pupil out of the classroom because he dared to disagree with me about the use of metaphorical language in Of Mice and Men.

But perhaps funnier than the story itself is that the author of this article was gulled into repeating it as though it could possibly be authentic. It is a reminder that reputations are often cultivated by those who must first suspend their critical faculties. This kind of nonsense is harmless enough, of course. It falls far short of defamation and, as RuPaul so neatly put it: “what other people think of me is none of my business.”

For all that, more serious attacks on people’s reputations can be devastating. Three years ago, I lost a friend to cancer after he had been falsely accused of sexual assault. In his final days he told me that he had no doubt that the years of intense anxiety following the trial had exacerbated his illness. The source of his distress wasn’t even so much the initial accusation, which was easily disproved in court, but rather the gossip that continued to reverberate and the loved ones who no longer picked up the phone.

In the past, I have often made the mistake of assuming the worst of my detractors, simply because a scurrilous lie has seemed more appealing than a complicated truth. Few of us who have been dragged into the deranging ideological skirmishes of the past few years will have avoided making these mistakes, but these days I like to keep in mind Philip Roth’s remark in The Human Stain: “our understanding of people must always be at best slightly wrong.”

No doubt it is hopelessly optimistic to assume that this approach will become the default. Our brains are hardwired to take mental shortcuts — known as heuristics — and we are generally more willing to believe the worst of others than make the effort to consider that we may have been misinformed. Worse still, the inherent appeal of scandalous and titillating tales means they will be propagated at an accelerated rate, so that even outright lies can quickly become received wisdom. We tend to accept that there is “no smoke without fire”, when more often than not it’s just a few troublemakers with a dry ice machine.

So perhaps we ought to give Tiberius the benefit of the doubt. In that spirit, let us consider one of Suetonius’s more flattering accounts. While living on the island of Rhodes, Tiberius remarked that he ought to visit all the sick people in the town. His servants assumed that this was some kind of decree, and the local invalids were hastily summoned. Rather than turn them away, Tiberius took the time to speak to each one and apologise for the misunderstanding. This story may not satisfy our appetite for murder and depravity, but at least it might be true.


Andrew Doyle is a comedian and creator of the Twitter persona Titania McGrath

andrewdoyle_com

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polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“…and I have found myself ostracised by former friends who now interpret even minor political disagreements as evidence of malevolence,”
It cannot be said often enough – Such people were not your friends. They were merely people that you knew. Accept this elementary fact and life gets a whole lot easier.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 year ago

“…and I have found myself ostracised by former friends who now interpret even minor political disagreements as evidence of malevolence,”
It cannot be said often enough – Such people were not your friends. They were merely people that you knew. Accept this elementary fact and life gets a whole lot easier.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

The invention of MeToo has made it possible for people to destroy anyone they don’t approve of.

Betsy Warrior
BW
Betsy Warrior
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

It seems that forever the first line of defence has been to discredit the underlings who accuse the great men. Smear the motives and reputations of the accusers till their word is a joke. It’s worked well for so many for so many years that when the victims get some traction for their claims there’s rage and outrage at the impudence of the accusers. After decades of impunity people like Cosby and Weinstein were completely flummoxed and blindsided. And no wonder, they mostly just go on with their activities and die an honorable death, reputations intact.

leculdesac suburbia
leculdesac suburbia
11 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Warrior

Agreed. While I’ve become cynical about the use of #metoo by people who only seem to apply standards of decency to their opponents and not their own candidates, the overwhelming reality is that sexual abuse has been rampant across cultures and times and is better (but still around) in first world cultures only in the past 4-5 decades.
No one seems to bemoan the “anxiety and stress that hastened” a demise when it’s the victim’s demise we’re talking about. Given the number of women who’ve been sexually assaulted, and the greater rates of pain and chronic fatigue in females, perhaps this association could be extended to long-term sufferers of past sexual trauma.
I appreciate this well-written essay and agree about smear campaigns, which is in the top of the abuser’s & narcissist’s tool box, but yep, I agree w/ you.
The past 5 years have taught me to be more tolerant of misunderstandings on the “right” because the misogyny on the “left” is so prevalent that I realize we’ll never get anywhere if we hold people to basic feminist literacy. We’ll get there. 🙂

leculdesac suburbia
LS
leculdesac suburbia
11 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Warrior

Agreed. While I’ve become cynical about the use of #metoo by people who only seem to apply standards of decency to their opponents and not their own candidates, the overwhelming reality is that sexual abuse has been rampant across cultures and times and is better (but still around) in first world cultures only in the past 4-5 decades.
No one seems to bemoan the “anxiety and stress that hastened” a demise when it’s the victim’s demise we’re talking about. Given the number of women who’ve been sexually assaulted, and the greater rates of pain and chronic fatigue in females, perhaps this association could be extended to long-term sufferers of past sexual trauma.
I appreciate this well-written essay and agree about smear campaigns, which is in the top of the abuser’s & narcissist’s tool box, but yep, I agree w/ you.
The past 5 years have taught me to be more tolerant of misunderstandings on the “right” because the misogyny on the “left” is so prevalent that I realize we’ll never get anywhere if we hold people to basic feminist literacy. We’ll get there. 🙂

Betsy Warrior
Betsy Warrior
1 year ago
Reply to  William Shaw

It seems that forever the first line of defence has been to discredit the underlings who accuse the great men. Smear the motives and reputations of the accusers till their word is a joke. It’s worked well for so many for so many years that when the victims get some traction for their claims there’s rage and outrage at the impudence of the accusers. After decades of impunity people like Cosby and Weinstein were completely flummoxed and blindsided. And no wonder, they mostly just go on with their activities and die an honorable death, reputations intact.

William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

The invention of MeToo has made it possible for people to destroy anyone they don’t approve of.

Andrew Raiment
AR
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

“Our brains are hardwired to take mental shortcuts — known as heuristics — and we are generally more willing to believe the worst of others than make the effort to consider that we may have been misinformed”.

Exactly, these heuristics are mistakenly described as so called “micro aggressions” and “unconscious bias” by people who should know better.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

“Our brains are hardwired to take mental shortcuts — known as heuristics — and we are generally more willing to believe the worst of others than make the effort to consider that we may have been misinformed”.

Exactly, these heuristics are mistakenly described as so called “micro aggressions” and “unconscious bias” by people who should know better.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrew Raiment
Saul D
SD
Saul D
1 year ago

A common human reaction is to treat anyone who disagrees with you as stupid and to try to undermine their reputation with names and projections – an effect that seems to increase with education (see BTL in the Guardian or comments in the NYT).
Personally, I’ve found it more effective to consider all people to be intelligent in their own way, but with different contexts, perspectives and judgements, and then try to listen to work out on what basis such an intelligent person would have a different opinion to the one I would think. I frequently find that if I listen carefully, I was the one who missed something or was thinking stupid. But that’s OK. Because exploring the dissonance and disagreement is how people learn and compromise.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

As someone trying to put away (or at least cut down on) hostility or dismissiveness toward views I don’t agree with, I appreciate your specific take on intellectual humility. With patient engagement and a willingness to understand, even those we can’t share many ideas or values with become less alien, less easily vilified.
“Exploring the dissonance and disagreement” in order to “learn and compromise” seems like a profound and worthwhile ethic, but one that is well outside the “comfort zone” and practice of too many of us (not exempting myself here). I estimate that you are a kinder, more tolerant person than most. Thanks for your post.

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you for both your posts – I am very bad at doing this, and if I do get angry I always feel ashamed of myself afterwards – it’s a terribly self righteous world, and it’s hard sometimes not to add to it with beastliness of your own.
What you have both said brought to mind something by Schopenhauer I try to remember: ‘Everyone takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world’. We are all perfectly reasonable to ourselves…

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
1 year ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Thank you for both your posts – I am very bad at doing this, and if I do get angry I always feel ashamed of myself afterwards – it’s a terribly self righteous world, and it’s hard sometimes not to add to it with beastliness of your own.
What you have both said brought to mind something by Schopenhauer I try to remember: ‘Everyone takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world’. We are all perfectly reasonable to ourselves…

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Butcher
Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I completely agree. However I see that your two examples are both from media you may perhaps describe as ‘liberal’ or ‘left wing’ or even, if American, as ‘socialist’ (unlikely ‘rightwing stooges’ as plenty on the real leftie left wing might call them). I vividly recall a BTL commentator from this parish calling Guardian readers ‘stupid and evil’, and garnering many upticks. As a Guardian reader who is provably not stupid (which doesn’t stop me being a fool, annoyingly often) and who has spent most of his life trying to be the very opposite of evil, I was upset, despite knowing that it says way more about that commentator than Guardianistas. Hey Ho, nowt so queer as folk, as my Yorkshire mum would say!

Steve Jolly
SJ
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I salute your attitude, though I myself am far too cynical to imagine more than a handful of people share either your humility or your positive outlook. In my experience, humility is the rarest of virtues, being the opposite of pride, which is the commonest of vices.

Lucy Browne
Lucy Browne
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I wish there were more people like you in the world, Saul D, and you too, AJ Mac.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

As someone trying to put away (or at least cut down on) hostility or dismissiveness toward views I don’t agree with, I appreciate your specific take on intellectual humility. With patient engagement and a willingness to understand, even those we can’t share many ideas or values with become less alien, less easily vilified.
“Exploring the dissonance and disagreement” in order to “learn and compromise” seems like a profound and worthwhile ethic, but one that is well outside the “comfort zone” and practice of too many of us (not exempting myself here). I estimate that you are a kinder, more tolerant person than most. Thanks for your post.

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I completely agree. However I see that your two examples are both from media you may perhaps describe as ‘liberal’ or ‘left wing’ or even, if American, as ‘socialist’ (unlikely ‘rightwing stooges’ as plenty on the real leftie left wing might call them). I vividly recall a BTL commentator from this parish calling Guardian readers ‘stupid and evil’, and garnering many upticks. As a Guardian reader who is provably not stupid (which doesn’t stop me being a fool, annoyingly often) and who has spent most of his life trying to be the very opposite of evil, I was upset, despite knowing that it says way more about that commentator than Guardianistas. Hey Ho, nowt so queer as folk, as my Yorkshire mum would say!

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I salute your attitude, though I myself am far too cynical to imagine more than a handful of people share either your humility or your positive outlook. In my experience, humility is the rarest of virtues, being the opposite of pride, which is the commonest of vices.

Lucy Browne
LD
Lucy Browne
1 year ago
Reply to  Saul D

I wish there were more people like you in the world, Saul D, and you too, AJ Mac.

Saul D
SD
Saul D
1 year ago

A common human reaction is to treat anyone who disagrees with you as stupid and to try to undermine their reputation with names and projections – an effect that seems to increase with education (see BTL in the Guardian or comments in the NYT).
Personally, I’ve found it more effective to consider all people to be intelligent in their own way, but with different contexts, perspectives and judgements, and then try to listen to work out on what basis such an intelligent person would have a different opinion to the one I would think. I frequently find that if I listen carefully, I was the one who missed something or was thinking stupid. But that’s OK. Because exploring the dissonance and disagreement is how people learn and compromise.

Linda Hutchinson
LH
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

a few troublemakers with a dry ice machine
Great metaphor.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago

a few troublemakers with a dry ice machine
Great metaphor.

Nik Jewell
NJ
Nik Jewell
1 year ago

I applaud Lex Fridman’s approach in his lengthy discussions, one of ‘epistemic humility and ‘steel manning’ your opponent’s position. This is very much in the spirit of a philosophical enquiry rather than an ideological contest.
Instead, in the majority of online discourse, we get a combination of ad hominem; criticism of the medium/platform; guilt by association; obfuscation; whataboutism; and ‘racist’, ‘Nazi’, ‘transphobe’, ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘fascist’, ‘denier’…
I despair.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
1 year ago

I applaud Lex Fridman’s approach in his lengthy discussions, one of ‘epistemic humility and ‘steel manning’ your opponent’s position. This is very much in the spirit of a philosophical enquiry rather than an ideological contest.
Instead, in the majority of online discourse, we get a combination of ad hominem; criticism of the medium/platform; guilt by association; obfuscation; whataboutism; and ‘racist’, ‘Nazi’, ‘transphobe’, ‘conspiracy theorist’, ‘fascist’, ‘denier’…
I despair.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Much of middle classlife in the arts and humanities is subjective, it lacks solid achievement. Reputation is therefore subjective. Wren could place the words “Wren fecit ” on the buildings he designed. Nimsdai Purja( Gurkha and member of the SBS) mountaineering records in the Himilayas are solid achievements.
Many middle class people who criticise others have a grossly exaggerated sense of their abilities, hence expectation in life which leads to a sense of entitlement which is absurd. buddhists say ” Where expectation exceeds reality there is unhappyness”.Consequently when they do not achieve the status to which they consider they are entitled, they become full of rancour, spite and malice. They need to consider they are good, morally and intellectually superior to others, which they do so by defining people they consider morally and intellectually inferior. I am good because you are bad.
They ignore the truth ” genius recognises talent, mediocrity sees it self “. Those undertaking innovative constructive activities are to busy concentrating on their work to criticise others.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Many of those ‘middle class’ failures you refer to would probably have found a very useful existence in running the old Empire, or even the Church of England.
However now that one is dead and the other dying they are completely superfluous, as you so rightly say.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

I doubt they have the practical skills or toughness. These critics tend to be arts graduates who do not play tough sports: they are not engineers from top 10 universities who boxed, played rugby, hockey or rowed. Engineering is about solving problems which are made worse by difficult terrain and extreme climate and sport which is about overcoming physical challenges.

justin fisher
justin fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I’ve spent most of my life around technicians who will quickly tell you a thing or two about the shortcomings of your glorious engineers whose brilliance they have to fix because they live their lives downstream of it in reality.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  justin fisher

The nature of training has changed. When people left school at 14 or 16 years of age and started apprenticeships they then went to night school, the local poly to study the exams of the Institutions of Engineering, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical being the main ones, in order to become Chartered . The Part 2 was degree standard. Or study The U of London Extrernal Degrees at the local poly in the evening. This way theory and practice was married. Examples are JR Mitchell – Spitfire of whom it was said he could undertake any task in the factory as good if not better than the person employed to do it;Camm – Hurricane, ;Chadwick- Lancaster , Whittle RAF apprenticeship then Cambridge, de Havilland – Mosquito, B Wallis – R101, Wellington, Bouncing Bomb, Swing Wing Technology-.
From the late 1960s, night school was phased out, then thin and thick sanwich courses and also woodwork and metal work from schools.
Th end of night schools meant craftsmen, draughtsmen and technicians were unable to obtain degrees without leaving work to study. Hence practical skills of engineers declined which is a major reason for decline in manufacturing in Britain. By grammar and public schools undertaking rigorous mathematical training such that people who left at 16 had what would today an A Level, it meant that the course set by the Institutions and U of London were of a very high standard: much higher than the degrees awarded by polys.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Right that’s the third time I’ve found you making these complaints, and I think I broadly agree with you (although you seem to leave all the blame for deindustrialisation at Labour’s feet which you’ll have to explain further if you want me to not think that Thatcher and this current band of criminals are not largely to blame). So – what’s the solution? How do we build Britain up again? We can’t just start a renaissance of techincal colleges without a bigger industrial base. Which party has the better policies in this regard? I would have suggested Corbyn’s Green New Deal (creating skilled jobs in green industries) Tell me why you (probably) think I’m wrong.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Simple; turn polys into Fraunhofer Institutes; allow people to obtain degrees in engineering/ Pt 2 exams and applied science through evening school;look at vocational training in Switzerland and ensure British standards are higher: bring back O Levels, A levels, S levels and Oxbridge Scholarship exams of pre 1980 standards; allow people to sit exams when they are capable of passing them. A friend sat his A Levels at 15, passed Cambridge Entrance Exams at 17, completed three of physics in two years and then a year of engineering and became a Chartered Engineer.
When people sat A levels in Pure Maths, Applied Maths, Physics and Chemsitry and S levels two subjects, it meant people had completed first year degree standard education in their Upper Sixth. This reduced time and cost spent on degree and enabled people to enter the workplace at a younger age and so start earning. One could earn a doctorate in Britain at twenty two years of age, for example William Penney, Rector of Imperial. Huxley who won a Nobel Prize gave a talk on Radio 4 explaining why Britain had won so many Nobels; early rigorous education was a vital aspect.
The previous standards of Cambridge/ Imperial enabled people to graduate with a degree at 20 years of age of the same standard as an american from MIT who had had studied four years for a degree and two years for a masters; reduce variety of A levels to those of 1960, classics, modern languages and history and maths and science. Spend three quarters of of education budget on engineering, applied science, science and medicine and reduce arts to law, classics, languages, history, economic and design/commercial art. Make everyone pass pre 1980 A Level in Latin to read for an arts degree.
Take the best of British, Swiss and Singapore science, engineering and craft training. Engineering could be said to be craftsmanship plus applied maths. Applied maths needs years of rigorous practice.
Technical education therefore has two routes; apprenticeship from 16 years of age followed by night school( person can stop at ONC, HNC or Degree ) or rigorous academic study at school with final exams of Oxbridge/University Scholarship and pre 1980 A Level Standards. Top students complete A levels in 12th year and 13 th year university scholarship other students take A levels in 13 th year.
Those passing university scholarship exam have free degree education provided they become Chartered Engineer or Scientist, otherwise they have to pay . The Old S Levels meant scholarship and if one passed them one’s degree was paid for by the county council.
Top 10 universities offering 3 years honours and lesser ones 4 year honours. IC/Cambridge offering masters after three years which was what happened pre 1980 or thereabouts.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Simple; turn polys into Fraunhofer Institutes; allow people to obtain degrees in engineering/ Pt 2 exams and applied science through evening school;look at vocational training in Switzerland and ensure British standards are higher: bring back O Levels, A levels, S levels and Oxbridge Scholarship exams of pre 1980 standards; allow people to sit exams when they are capable of passing them. A friend sat his A Levels at 15, passed Cambridge Entrance Exams at 17, completed three of physics in two years and then a year of engineering and became a Chartered Engineer.
When people sat A levels in Pure Maths, Applied Maths, Physics and Chemsitry and S levels two subjects, it meant people had completed first year degree standard education in their Upper Sixth. This reduced time and cost spent on degree and enabled people to enter the workplace at a younger age and so start earning. One could earn a doctorate in Britain at twenty two years of age, for example William Penney, Rector of Imperial. Huxley who won a Nobel Prize gave a talk on Radio 4 explaining why Britain had won so many Nobels; early rigorous education was a vital aspect.
The previous standards of Cambridge/ Imperial enabled people to graduate with a degree at 20 years of age of the same standard as an american from MIT who had had studied four years for a degree and two years for a masters; reduce variety of A levels to those of 1960, classics, modern languages and history and maths and science. Spend three quarters of of education budget on engineering, applied science, science and medicine and reduce arts to law, classics, languages, history, economic and design/commercial art. Make everyone pass pre 1980 A Level in Latin to read for an arts degree.
Take the best of British, Swiss and Singapore science, engineering and craft training. Engineering could be said to be craftsmanship plus applied maths. Applied maths needs years of rigorous practice.
Technical education therefore has two routes; apprenticeship from 16 years of age followed by night school( person can stop at ONC, HNC or Degree ) or rigorous academic study at school with final exams of Oxbridge/University Scholarship and pre 1980 A Level Standards. Top students complete A levels in 12th year and 13 th year university scholarship other students take A levels in 13 th year.
Those passing university scholarship exam have free degree education provided they become Chartered Engineer or Scientist, otherwise they have to pay . The Old S Levels meant scholarship and if one passed them one’s degree was paid for by the county council.
Top 10 universities offering 3 years honours and lesser ones 4 year honours. IC/Cambridge offering masters after three years which was what happened pre 1980 or thereabouts.

Roy Gundavda
RG
Roy Gundavda
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Excellent summary

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Gundavda

Thank you.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Roy Gundavda

Thank you.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Painfully (!) I largely agree with you about the problems arising from the acadamisation (like my new word?) of studies with a practical bent (also include nursing etc), but there is way more than that to the decline in manufacturing in the UK. It does give me a chance to proffer up the life of one of my great heroes, my Grandfather George; left school at 12 to be apprenticed to a blacksmith after pretty much no schooling; went to night school to study maths etc (I still have his textbooks); became an engineer (Brummie engineering hotspot), including working on Sopwith Camel maintenance in WWI; and eventually rose to become Chief Engineer of Shell. Astonishing and something almost inconceivable today (possibly not in China).

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Thank you. Night school enabled people to sit Inst of Engineering Exams, Mechies was considered tougher than a degree. The other advantage was that in ensured high standards throughout the country. The difference between Cambridge/Imperial and bottom end of polys was massive due to standard of maths at entry.
What was ignored was that many of the best brains have left Britain since the 1870s and this accelerated post 1945 which included craftsmen, foremen, technician, scientists and engineer.
Other aspects include post 1870, aristocrats came to despise trade and then left wing middle class came to despise profits post 1930s.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Thank you. Night school enabled people to sit Inst of Engineering Exams, Mechies was considered tougher than a degree. The other advantage was that in ensured high standards throughout the country. The difference between Cambridge/Imperial and bottom end of polys was massive due to standard of maths at entry.
What was ignored was that many of the best brains have left Britain since the 1870s and this accelerated post 1945 which included craftsmen, foremen, technician, scientists and engineer.
Other aspects include post 1870, aristocrats came to despise trade and then left wing middle class came to despise profits post 1930s.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ah but you are only highlighting the successes!

What about say, ‘The Brabazon’, the Princess Flying Boats, the Comet, the Britannia, TS2 or even Concord(e). Each and every one a commercial disaster which I’m sure you remember?

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

The Comet was a disaster because square windows used which concentrated stress. If they had sorted this out Comet would have been the finest commercial plane in the World. People ignored B Wallis who criticised Concorde. He said that using swing wing technology planes could have taken off and land at around 90mph and then wings move back when plane approached super sonic. At the end of his life, B Wallis was designing planes which could fly at 14, 000 mph at an altitude of 250, 000 ft which meant one could fly to Australia in 1.5 hrs.
The Great Inventor – YouTube

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I also heard that Concorde made itself non-profitable through poor understanding of its market. It tried to attract more customers by lowering fares, not realising that most of its existing customers were too rich to care about the prices (which should have been raised)

Last edited 1 year ago by Desmond Wolf
Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

B Wallis said it should have never been started. Swing wing technology enbles a plane to land at 90 mph and when over the sea retract the wings and then then go supersonic. The F111 uses swing wing technology. Wallis understood that Britain was an island and needed a plane which could fly anywhere in the World without refuelling and land on fairly basic runways. If one views the You Tube videos on B Wallis and the BBC 4 programme on British planes in the 1940s and 1950s, one realises that mistakes by civil servants, politicians and directors of nationalised companies destroyed our aircraft industry.
G Stephenson understood railways needed to be profitable B Wallis understood commercial airplanes needed to be profitable.
If one wants to understand why Britain’s industry declined post 1870 and especially post 1945 it was because many of the decisions made by civil servants, politicians, teachers, directors of nationalised industry and leaders of un and semi skilled unions industry knew nothing about international trade and technology and made wrong decisions. Many of those who did either died in wars or went overseas, especially post 1945. Construction in the Gulf from 1945 to early 1980s was largely done by the British which is why there were so many building disasters in the UK; the best, from craftsmen to engineers were overseas.
As C Northcote Parkinson said “The best went overseas, the dregs stayed in Whitehall.”

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

B Wallis said it should have never been started. Swing wing technology enbles a plane to land at 90 mph and when over the sea retract the wings and then then go supersonic. The F111 uses swing wing technology. Wallis understood that Britain was an island and needed a plane which could fly anywhere in the World without refuelling and land on fairly basic runways. If one views the You Tube videos on B Wallis and the BBC 4 programme on British planes in the 1940s and 1950s, one realises that mistakes by civil servants, politicians and directors of nationalised companies destroyed our aircraft industry.
G Stephenson understood railways needed to be profitable B Wallis understood commercial airplanes needed to be profitable.
If one wants to understand why Britain’s industry declined post 1870 and especially post 1945 it was because many of the decisions made by civil servants, politicians, teachers, directors of nationalised industry and leaders of un and semi skilled unions industry knew nothing about international trade and technology and made wrong decisions. Many of those who did either died in wars or went overseas, especially post 1945. Construction in the Gulf from 1945 to early 1980s was largely done by the British which is why there were so many building disasters in the UK; the best, from craftsmen to engineers were overseas.
As C Northcote Parkinson said “The best went overseas, the dregs stayed in Whitehall.”

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

“IF”.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Do you mean the poem by Kipling ?

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Do you mean the poem by Kipling ?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I also heard that Concorde made itself non-profitable through poor understanding of its market. It tried to attract more customers by lowering fares, not realising that most of its existing customers were too rich to care about the prices (which should have been raised)

Last edited 1 year ago by Desmond Wolf
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

“IF”.

Bruce V
Bruce V
1 year ago

As an American I say the Comet was an absolutely beautiful plane. The best lines since the Spitfire IMHO (except for that abrupt tail fin). The Victor V bomber had a similar elegance along with an appropriately sinister nose.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruce V
Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce V

Yes, the Victor was a really sinister looking beast!
I once heard an American describe it as “this is where Armageddon is coming from”!

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Bruce V

Yes, the Victor was a really sinister looking beast!
I once heard an American describe it as “this is where Armageddon is coming from”!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

The Comet was a disaster because square windows used which concentrated stress. If they had sorted this out Comet would have been the finest commercial plane in the World. People ignored B Wallis who criticised Concorde. He said that using swing wing technology planes could have taken off and land at around 90mph and then wings move back when plane approached super sonic. At the end of his life, B Wallis was designing planes which could fly at 14, 000 mph at an altitude of 250, 000 ft which meant one could fly to Australia in 1.5 hrs.
The Great Inventor – YouTube

Bruce V
BV
Bruce V
1 year ago

As an American I say the Comet was an absolutely beautiful plane. The best lines since the Spitfire IMHO (except for that abrupt tail fin). The Victor V bomber had a similar elegance along with an appropriately sinister nose.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bruce V
Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Right that’s the third time I’ve found you making these complaints, and I think I broadly agree with you (although you seem to leave all the blame for deindustrialisation at Labour’s feet which you’ll have to explain further if you want me to not think that Thatcher and this current band of criminals are not largely to blame). So – what’s the solution? How do we build Britain up again? We can’t just start a renaissance of techincal colleges without a bigger industrial base. Which party has the better policies in this regard? I would have suggested Corbyn’s Green New Deal (creating skilled jobs in green industries) Tell me why you (probably) think I’m wrong.

Roy Gundavda
RG
Roy Gundavda
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Excellent summary

Tony Price
Tony Price
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Painfully (!) I largely agree with you about the problems arising from the acadamisation (like my new word?) of studies with a practical bent (also include nursing etc), but there is way more than that to the decline in manufacturing in the UK. It does give me a chance to proffer up the life of one of my great heroes, my Grandfather George; left school at 12 to be apprenticed to a blacksmith after pretty much no schooling; went to night school to study maths etc (I still have his textbooks); became an engineer (Brummie engineering hotspot), including working on Sopwith Camel maintenance in WWI; and eventually rose to become Chief Engineer of Shell. Astonishing and something almost inconceivable today (possibly not in China).

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ah but you are only highlighting the successes!

What about say, ‘The Brabazon’, the Princess Flying Boats, the Comet, the Britannia, TS2 or even Concord(e). Each and every one a commercial disaster which I’m sure you remember?

Last edited 1 year ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  justin fisher

The nature of training has changed. When people left school at 14 or 16 years of age and started apprenticeships they then went to night school, the local poly to study the exams of the Institutions of Engineering, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical being the main ones, in order to become Chartered . The Part 2 was degree standard. Or study The U of London Extrernal Degrees at the local poly in the evening. This way theory and practice was married. Examples are JR Mitchell – Spitfire of whom it was said he could undertake any task in the factory as good if not better than the person employed to do it;Camm – Hurricane, ;Chadwick- Lancaster , Whittle RAF apprenticeship then Cambridge, de Havilland – Mosquito, B Wallis – R101, Wellington, Bouncing Bomb, Swing Wing Technology-.
From the late 1960s, night school was phased out, then thin and thick sanwich courses and also woodwork and metal work from schools.
Th end of night schools meant craftsmen, draughtsmen and technicians were unable to obtain degrees without leaving work to study. Hence practical skills of engineers declined which is a major reason for decline in manufacturing in Britain. By grammar and public schools undertaking rigorous mathematical training such that people who left at 16 had what would today an A Level, it meant that the course set by the Institutions and U of London were of a very high standard: much higher than the degrees awarded by polys.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

In short then we have bred, and to lapse into the vernacular, a ”bunch of complete spastics”.

Based on empirical evidence I must sadly, have to agree with you.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

There is rowing song called ” Craven A ” which sums it rather well “He was no f……. use at all “.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

There is rowing song called ” Craven A ” which sums it rather well “He was no f……. use at all “.

justin fisher
JF
justin fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I’ve spent most of my life around technicians who will quickly tell you a thing or two about the shortcomings of your glorious engineers whose brilliance they have to fix because they live their lives downstream of it in reality.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

In short then we have bred, and to lapse into the vernacular, a ”bunch of complete spastics”.

Based on empirical evidence I must sadly, have to agree with you.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

and run everything, not least the MasturbaTory party

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

I doubt they have the practical skills or toughness. These critics tend to be arts graduates who do not play tough sports: they are not engineers from top 10 universities who boxed, played rugby, hockey or rowed. Engineering is about solving problems which are made worse by difficult terrain and extreme climate and sport which is about overcoming physical challenges.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

and run everything, not least the MasturbaTory party

Alice Rowlands
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Many middle class people who criticise others have a grossly exaggerated sense of their abilities, hence expectation in life which leads to a sense of entitlement which is absurd.
This is a genuine problem I have found. The widespread contempt for those who work with their hands and on whom we all rely. And the overvaluing of those who don’t. Many jobs really strike me as bullshit jobs but are much better paid than hospital porters, cleaners and health care assistants for example.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice Rowlands

If one looks at apprenticeships there are two classes, GSCE and A Level Entry. If one joins RN, possibly RAF and utilities and undertakes emergency /night / Christmas work the pay and promotions are very good. I think the RN accelerated apprentices start on £33K.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ok this is all very well and your educational reform is all very well explained (especially regarding a slimmer, more streamlined academic sector for those with real interest), but is no one above hearing my concern about deindustrialisation and the fact that the necessary expansion of our industrial base (to take on all the new graudates with technical training) won’t magically appear without policies of reindustrialisation?

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

One needs to educate and train people before one can create companies, from craftsmen to engineer. Read J Burke The Day the Universe Changed. The Dissenting Academies trained the Non Conformist craftsmen who created the Industrial Revolution.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ok – you do raise an interesting question. I suspect the two need to be developed in tandem (if the jobs at the other end are no good, people may not use the skills they’ve learnt or go elsewhere for employment) but I’ll look into this..

S Wilkinson
S Wilkinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Thank you. Very interesting and something I knew nothing about.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ok – you do raise an interesting question. I suspect the two need to be developed in tandem (if the jobs at the other end are no good, people may not use the skills they’ve learnt or go elsewhere for employment) but I’ll look into this..

S Wilkinson
SW
S Wilkinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Thank you. Very interesting and something I knew nothing about.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

One needs to educate and train people before one can create companies, from craftsmen to engineer. Read J Burke The Day the Universe Changed. The Dissenting Academies trained the Non Conformist craftsmen who created the Industrial Revolution.

Desmond Wolf
DW
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Ok this is all very well and your educational reform is all very well explained (especially regarding a slimmer, more streamlined academic sector for those with real interest), but is no one above hearing my concern about deindustrialisation and the fact that the necessary expansion of our industrial base (to take on all the new graudates with technical training) won’t magically appear without policies of reindustrialisation?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice Rowlands

And don’t forget the contempt this government seems to have with people who don’t (so often) work with their hands – doctors, teachers.nurses etc People who do nothing for their money (like the shareholders of national rail recently paid £82m of tax payer money for record losses) seem particular favourites of this lot

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice Rowlands

Not in France, Germany, Italy, Spain… only in nu britn…

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice Rowlands

If one looks at apprenticeships there are two classes, GSCE and A Level Entry. If one joins RN, possibly RAF and utilities and undertakes emergency /night / Christmas work the pay and promotions are very good. I think the RN accelerated apprentices start on £33K.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice Rowlands

And don’t forget the contempt this government seems to have with people who don’t (so often) work with their hands – doctors, teachers.nurses etc People who do nothing for their money (like the shareholders of national rail recently paid £82m of tax payer money for record losses) seem particular favourites of this lot

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Alice Rowlands

Not in France, Germany, Italy, Spain… only in nu britn…

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Many of those ‘middle class’ failures you refer to would probably have found a very useful existence in running the old Empire, or even the Church of England.
However now that one is dead and the other dying they are completely superfluous, as you so rightly say.

Alice Rowlands
DH
Alice Rowlands
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Many middle class people who criticise others have a grossly exaggerated sense of their abilities, hence expectation in life which leads to a sense of entitlement which is absurd.
This is a genuine problem I have found. The widespread contempt for those who work with their hands and on whom we all rely. And the overvaluing of those who don’t. Many jobs really strike me as bullshit jobs but are much better paid than hospital porters, cleaners and health care assistants for example.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago

Much of middle classlife in the arts and humanities is subjective, it lacks solid achievement. Reputation is therefore subjective. Wren could place the words “Wren fecit ” on the buildings he designed. Nimsdai Purja( Gurkha and member of the SBS) mountaineering records in the Himilayas are solid achievements.
Many middle class people who criticise others have a grossly exaggerated sense of their abilities, hence expectation in life which leads to a sense of entitlement which is absurd. buddhists say ” Where expectation exceeds reality there is unhappyness”.Consequently when they do not achieve the status to which they consider they are entitled, they become full of rancour, spite and malice. They need to consider they are good, morally and intellectually superior to others, which they do so by defining people they consider morally and intellectually inferior. I am good because you are bad.
They ignore the truth ” genius recognises talent, mediocrity sees it self “. Those undertaking innovative constructive activities are to busy concentrating on their work to criticise others.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
1 year ago

It’s possible that Tiberius, who had spent the majority of his life prior to Capri being a dour and underappreciated success story with mummy issues, just didn’t like the majority of chancers, spivs and gangsters who masqueraded as the guardians of the res publica, and said stuff you lot, and refused to have anything to do with them. So said spivs etc, invented the rumours to get even. Except that they didn’t because Tiberius lived a long life, the last ten years of which he cheerfully paludi digitum dedit.

Mark Melvin
MM
Mark Melvin
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

From what I read Tiberius never wanted to be emperor, that was down to his Mum. Apparently all he wanted was his wife and to stay in the Army. Mum had different ideas.

Mark Melvin
MM
Mark Melvin
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Taylor

From what I read Tiberius never wanted to be emperor, that was down to his Mum. Apparently all he wanted was his wife and to stay in the Army. Mum had different ideas.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
1 year ago

It’s possible that Tiberius, who had spent the majority of his life prior to Capri being a dour and underappreciated success story with mummy issues, just didn’t like the majority of chancers, spivs and gangsters who masqueraded as the guardians of the res publica, and said stuff you lot, and refused to have anything to do with them. So said spivs etc, invented the rumours to get even. Except that they didn’t because Tiberius lived a long life, the last ten years of which he cheerfully paludi digitum dedit.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

Like the best detectives (in fiction anyway), we should be looking for the totality of given events and not look for the ones that suit our prejudices. That is increasingly difficult with media outlets churning out op-eds full of informal fallacies, calling out others for their cognitive dissonance while “ignoring” their own.

Andrew Raiment
AR
Andrew Raiment
1 year ago

Like the best detectives (in fiction anyway), we should be looking for the totality of given events and not look for the ones that suit our prejudices. That is increasingly difficult with media outlets churning out op-eds full of informal fallacies, calling out others for their cognitive dissonance while “ignoring” their own.

Emery Roe
Emery Roe
1 year ago

Actually, our understanding of people is not just “slightly wrong,” according to Roth.
From his American Pastoral:
You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet. . .It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong.

Emery Roe
ER
Emery Roe
1 year ago

Actually, our understanding of people is not just “slightly wrong,” according to Roth.
From his American Pastoral:
You get them wrong before you meet them, while you’re anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you’re with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet. . .It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong.

Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt wrote that politics was about friends vs. enemies.
Now the whole point of the rule of the educated elite is that they are going to “fundamentally transform” the world with politics.
So anyone that agrees with them is a friend. But anyone that disagrees with their politics is an enemy.
Thus Reigns of Terror, Great Purges, Cultural Revolutions, and Woke Culture Wars. With the associated butcher’s bill.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt wrote that politics was about friends vs. enemies.
Now the whole point of the rule of the educated elite is that they are going to “fundamentally transform” the world with politics.
So anyone that agrees with them is a friend. But anyone that disagrees with their politics is an enemy.
Thus Reigns of Terror, Great Purges, Cultural Revolutions, and Woke Culture Wars. With the associated butcher’s bill.

Kelly Madden
KM
Kelly Madden
1 year ago

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”
Sadly, what other people think of me is often what some people say about me.

Kelly Madden
Kelly Madden
1 year ago

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”
Sadly, what other people think of me is often what some people say about me.

Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

I am the very embodiment of the principle Andrew is discussing. If ever I find myself reading something critical of him, I mentally label the author with a euphemism for a part of the female anatomy, and stop reading immediately.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Bollis
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Who’s Douglas?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Thanks, now corrected. Had Douglas Murray in mind but equally applicable to Andrew

Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Thanks, now corrected. Had Douglas Murray in mind but equally applicable to Andrew

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Who’s Douglas?

Martin Bollis
MB
Martin Bollis
1 year ago

I am the very embodiment of the principle Andrew is discussing. If ever I find myself reading something critical of him, I mentally label the author with a euphemism for a part of the female anatomy, and stop reading immediately.

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Bollis
Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

There is something wrong with you. Who goes to the beautiful Isle of Capri and the Bay of Naples to write articles? However, a great piece.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Compared to Ischia, Capri is a bit of a dump, particularly since the late Gracie Fields ‘discovered’ the place, if not before.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Compared to Ischia, Capri is a bit of a dump, particularly since the late Gracie Fields ‘discovered’ the place, if not before.

Alan Thorpe
AT
Alan Thorpe
1 year ago

There is something wrong with you. Who goes to the beautiful Isle of Capri and the Bay of Naples to write articles? However, a great piece.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Astonishing really that after that all that alleged ‘hanky-panky’ and ‘botty banditry’, the Roman Empire managed to lurch on for a further four centuries after the death of Nero.

Decadence is a very SLOW killer it seems.How very reassuring.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
1 year ago

Astonishing really that after that all that alleged ‘hanky-panky’ and ‘botty banditry’, the Roman Empire managed to lurch on for a further four centuries after the death of Nero.

Decadence is a very SLOW killer it seems.How very reassuring.