How do we celebrate (or mourn, if you’re a remainer) Freedom Day 2019?

If it hasn’t happened already, I daresay it won’t be long before a public competition (no doubt to be won by an infant school wunderkind) is launched for events to mark the day the UK gains its freedom from the EU (although we should all know by now that it won’t happen for real until the end of 2021 – the almost two-year long extension to satisfy industry and institutions without the wit to use the two years of exit negotiations to sort themselves out! How they can call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’, I find pretentious beyond belief!)

My favourite suggestion so far (in the Daily Telegraph today – 29/3/18) is another Bonfire Night with the bogeymen of the Brussels bureaucracy being burnt in effigy instead of Guy Fawkes. The postscript to that suggestion was that Sir John Major and Tony Blair should be first reserves. Personally, I think the late Sir Edward Heath should be the first on the bonny.

I suspect that some of the present Cabinet and the Prime Minister herself could feature on the list, if the people of UK feel let down by whatever the final agreement comes up with, especially if the final price tag is more than we currently pay over two years for full membership and/or there is no end in sight for unlimited immigration from the EU.

The Ides of March

Today is, of course, the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar at the hands of – amongst others – Marcus junius Brutus, who was probably his natural son by Sempronia, former wife of Marcus Junius Brutus senior, who was executed by Pompey. Now that was a political murder if ever there was one. JC and Sempronia had been lovers for a very long time – probably since before he married Cornelia, his first wife. Caesar’s last words (famously according to Shakespeare) were ‘Et tu Brute’ (often translated by students with tongue in cheek as ‘Ouch, you, brute!’)

Young Brutus and his fellow assassins, who had all fought against JC in his civil war against the corrupt Republican Senate and their equally corrupt supporting general, Pompey, had all been forgiven and reinstated in their positions of influence by JC after their lengthy civil war against him. Their excuse for killing JC was that he intended to have himself crowned king, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. JC had already been declared Dictator for life by the Senate, a role he had tried to resign. He no more believed in kingship than the most ardent of Republicans.

Escape To Mars

I have recently been following the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s interests on YouTube. He fully intends to direct his SpaceX enterprise towards setting up a manned community on Mars in the not too distant future in order to ensure that, if and when some life threatening disaster strikes earth that could send humanity (if it survives at all) back into the Dark Ages – as many now believe has happened before – there will be a body of intelligent human life sufficiently far away to be unaffected and therefore able to return to the planet and ensure that those new Dark Ages are not as prolonged as the last ones.

Musk says that his Mars spaceship is already in build, although I doubt that it would be possible to build a ship capable of getting to Mars from an Earth launch. IMHO it would have to be built either in space itself or on the Moon, using materials collected there for that purpose.

I go into some detail about my concept in my latest book Time Marches On 4 – Escape to Mars (available in e-book formats on Amazon Kindle). In my book I outline what I think might well be the cause for such an evacuation but project it much further into the future than Musk suggests.

I also give my escapees the benefit of important technology developments that Musk predicts but which will not be functional in any practical and cost-effective form for many years yet. To launch such a project before that technology is up and running would be too risky by far.

Selecting, training and preparing such an escape community will take far longer than he seems to think. To be a worthwhile reserve community will take far more than bravery and the acceptance of the strong risk of death or disastrous failure. It will need far more than a simple call for volunteers prepared to risk all.

The First Day of Spring

Disregard anything the Met Office tells you. Today is the first day of Spring, six and a half weeks after the midwinter solstice. It’s freezing here and this week could turn out to be the coldest so far this year.

A few years ago I went to a Royal Artillery Gold Cup Meeting at Sandown race course on 6th February and the street verges were alive with daffodils all the way there. What a difference!

The Roman Calendar

Before the time of mighty Caesar,

The Roman year posed quite a teaser.

In ancient times ten months were named.

For lack of two cold Winter’s blamed.


The year began on March the first,

When Winter’s storms had done their worst.

‘Twas left to wise men when to start,

So Time and Seasons came to part.


Janus came to guard the door,

But still they needed one month more.

And so to seek a fresh new year,

The februa’s lash was brought to bear.


The score of days for each month’s due

Was twenty-nine for all save few.

Twenty-eight was Februa’s lot,

And thirty-one four others tot.


March was one and May another,

Quint’lis third, and last October.

Their Ides and Nones fell two days on,

To try to catch the fickle moon.


But still the year was ten days short,

And priests were called to mend this tort.

Mere mortals, they were seldom right,

And Spring oft winced with wintry blight.


Once more this battle Caesar won,

While beauteous Cleo bore his son.

For Egypt’s wisdom held the key,

To Time’s elusive mystery.


Sixty-five and hundreds three

Were now the days a year should be.

But Cleo’s curse says every four,

Februa must bear one day more.


Thirty days now hath September,

April, June and bleak November,

While thirty-one have all the rest,

Twenty-nine is February’s best.


Quint’lis bears the hero’s fame,

Fifth month no more, July’s her name.

Augustus sailed in Caesar’s wake

And Sextilis his honours take.


Two thousand years his measure stands

Still marking time for modern lands.

Yet few now honour Caesar’s name …

Another moth to Vulcan’s flame.


Our year’s ordained twelve stanzas long

And so, dear friend, must be our song.

It would be shame to play the miser

When Caesar made us so much wiser.



Syston, Jan ‘94