Archive for September 1st, 2020

The British have a long history of empire expansion across the globe, transforming primitive lands into nations with majestic urban design regaling colonial architecture where institutes of higher learning learning were built along avenues with parks and leisure facilities aplenty. British India was, for the longest time, considered the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The Raj was where Queen Victoria was described as ‘The Empress of India’ -isn’t that quaint? Well if not, it’s what the text books taught us at school.

But being the postmodern historian I am it goes without saying that I have to draw attention to the point that ‘history’ and ‘the past’ are categorically distinct, and usually miles apart. If I were salaried by the Oxbridge network and fearful of losing my post as lecturer, I’d also conveniently consign the fact that queen Victoria never went there once, that the locals were treated like slaves if not worse, and that over five million of them died of cholera whilst trying to build pavilions for English cricketers, and clubhouses for polo players. Such points I would consign to trivialities glossed over nicely enough: emphasizing how we British educated and civilized a land of savages and cannibals, something we should be proud of. Adding how we gave them our language, our pastimes, untold riches, our cultural inheritance too, for this is what British people want to hear thus less likely to result in my dismissal. We have a reputation to uphold and don’t need to be shown how we treated them like shit, stole everything they had and destroyed the lives of thousands. Proof of how the aristocracy flourished in The Raj can be found in the following game below. I have here two outstanding gentleman, both of impeccable manners and highly skilled at chess. Recordings of their conversation during play has been found, and so I have found one of their recorded games and added their commentary on top. Although I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, this took some doing and is exquisite. Converted to christianity, well-established in the textile industry, these two gents went on to become Viceroys of their respective states, they exude class and exemplify post-game analysis at its finest. If there’s something the British should be proud of, exemplifying how an intellectual pursuit is rendered discursive by those born into a region without industrialization is it. The video below is from a game played in the late 1850’s, the gentlemen conduct themselves accordingly, even though when a blunder is referred to, it is done in a gentlemanly manner.

Well worth a listen even if I do say so myself. Britishness abroad, exemplifying the finery of intellectual pursuit amongst the aristocracy of The Raj. I should add some audio -given it’s age- is missing, and some moves are missing also but the game, played in Calcutta, has been preserved. Being a postmodern historian, I like to do history, please watch the video below, it exemplifies the continental importation of Victorian England wonderfully. The language expressed is everything you’d expect from courteous post-game analysis on a veranda where only the gentry lazed in late afternoon sun -see! Even we postmodernists can be captivated by the quaintness of the past!

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