Charles the Nickname

It’s June 13th, and if you check the Wikipedia page for today’s date, you’ll see that on this date in 1381, the Peasants’ Revolt led by Wat Tyler culminated in the burning of the Savoy Palace.

Who Tyler? No, Wat Tyler.

But way, way before that happened, it was the birthdate of Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor. “Which Charles?”, you ask, knowing that there were several. Well, today is a birthday for two of them, actually – the unfortunate ones.


Yes, both Charles the Bald and Charles the Fat were born on this day just 16 years apart.
What are the chances?

A quick search of other Wikipedia pages reveals that other Holy Roman Emperors, such as Charles the Handsome, Charles the Devilishly Goodlooking and Charles the OMG Mavis, Int’ee Buff weren’t born on June 13th.
Because they didn’t exist. I made them up.

However, amusingly, reality is almost more ridiculous than whatever was going on in my twisted mind just then.

Firstly, we’re told that Charles the Bald shouldn’t be confused with Charles the Bold. The latter presumably being braver and more hirsute. Charles the Bold was Duke of Burgundy between 1467 and 1477, when he was succeeded by Philip the Good (one of the nicest of the Philips).

Whereas, Charles the Bald was, by all accounts, bald. He had several children, including Judith*, Louis the Stammerer, Lothar the Lame and then – when someone’s imagination ran out – Charles the Child. Charles the Bald was King of West Francia (843–77), King of Italy (875–77) and Holy Roman Emperor (875–77), succeeding his father Louis the Pious and being succeeded by… Charles the Fat.

Annoyingly for Charles the Fat, there’s actually no evidence that he was fat:

The nickname “Charles the Fat” (Latin Carolus Crassus) is not contemporary. It was first used by the Annalista Saxo (the anonymous “Saxon Annalist”) in the twelfth century. There is no contemporary reference to Charles’s physical size, but the nickname has stuck and is the common name in most modern European languages (French Charles le Gros, German Karl der Dicke, Italian Carlo il Grosso).

Unfortunate.

Charles the Fat (sorry) held the offices of King of West Francia and Aquitaine, Emperor of the Romans, King of Italy, King of East Francia and Alemannia during his 48 year life. Busy guy. He had one son, who never amounted to much, probably primarily because his name was Bernard (the Illegitimate). (Oops).

Reading this, and noting the rampant nepotism and huge opulence that were part of the daily lives of these individuals, I can’t help but wish that we had something akin to their use of appropriate descriptions in naming modern day politicians.

Jacob the Corrupt.
Gwede the Boep.
Helen the Repeatedly Foolish.
Julius the Mouth.
Fikile the Clown.
Malusi the Captured.

 

married firstly with Ethelwulf of Wessex, secondly with Ethelbald of Wessex (her stepson), and thirdly with Baldwin I of Flanders. Gosh.

Another attack

Another attack, more outrage, more division, more strong words.

No solutions.

There will be a vigil, prayers, candles, hashtags and a minute’s silence. But give it a week and we’ll all have moved on and forgotten about it. The only reminders will be the banners across the bottom of the profile pictures of our more dramatic Facebook friends.

I’m tired of being told that this is the new normal, tired of being policed on which adjectives I’m allowed to use when describing the individuals involved, tired now of this cycle of horror and distress followed all too quickly by acceptance.

We’re told that hundreds of terror plots have been foiled, and that’s to be congratulated. But when things like Manchester and London Bridge happen (because that’s how we describe them now – just the geographical location – we all know what we’re talking about), then whatever measures are being taken are clearly not robust enough.

Don’t ask me what to do. I’m a microbiologist. If you want to know what eight spots in the second panel of an immunological test for latent tuberculosis means, then I can tell you. It’s the politicians and the leaders who get paid the big bucks – our big bucks – to make the policies which should explicitly prevent these attacks from occurring. And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist (which I’m not either) to see that whatever policies exist right now around this area need to be strengthened. It’s not for me to say how. I’ll look at your blood test and tell you whether or not you’ve been exposed to TB. You stop the terrorists from killing innocent people on a night out.

And yes, some rights might get trodden on, some individuals might get offended, upset, angry. So be it. The needs of the many and all that. A van and some knives, a jar of homemade TATP surrounded by screws in a backpack? That’s nothing compared to what these people would like to be able to do, nothing compared to what they are aiming for. So put on your big girl panties, take a deep breath, and make those decisions which you know are going to be unpopular with some people.

Because hashtags and candles aren’t ever going to stop people being murdered.

Recent politics

Our Dear Leader Jacob Zuma survived another vote of no confidence at the ANC NEC this weekend, despite the conveniently timed release of several (or more) emails detailing how his chums in the Gupta family are essentially pulling the strings that make the country work.

And yet, the important guys in the top echelons of his party still voted to keep him. And you realise that when they do that in a democratic environment (which is what the ANC NEC supposedly is) then the problem is with the party, not the president.

But let’s watch as those dissenters all fall dutifully in line again after this thinly-veiled threat:

Meanwhile, the ex-leader of the official opposition and Lord High Empress of the Western Cape, with this HUGE open goal to aim at, is fighting with her boss about whether she can stay on for another term, given the alleged damage that she is causing to the party.

A local mayor wasted time praying for rain last Thursday.

How could you have missed that Donald Trump has been being Donald Trump internationally this week?

And in the UK, Labour comedy duo Abbott and Corbstello refuse to condemn terrorist acts from the 1980s, blame UK foreign policy for the Manchester attack, went to a “poignant” ceremony honouring terrorists from the 1970s and tell us that “the terrorists will not prevail” while… er… planning to radically alter UK foreign policy because of terrorism.

Thus – with a language warning in hand – please see this cartoon which illustrates the approach that many people will be taking towards the subject of politics today (and for the foreseeable future).

Really. Life would be so much more pleasant if we didn’t have to worry about these people who have been elected to serve us and whose salaries our taxes pay.

Another weekend survived

And it does feel a bit that way. School projects, housework, a sleepover, an Eisteddfod winners concert (following this) in Sea Point and some spicy political email revelations – all underpinned by the remnants on a nasty upper respiratory tract infection that has meant sinuses leaking with pus.

I’m sorry. You probably didn’t need to know that last bit. Or maybe even the bits before. Anyway…

The folks in the UK have got a bank holiday tomorrow – the only one of the year that doesn’t have a direct SA equivalent. We’re banging another long weekend in on the 16th June though, so no-one is fretting too much.

Right now, I’m off to spend a few moments with the long-suffering Mrs 6000, before I pack her (back) off to Namibia in the morning.

More tomorrow.

De Lille to host inter-faith prayer for rain on Table Mountain

That’s the headline from iol this morning, and the article underneath it goes on to say that:

The City of Cape Town’s Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille will host an inter-faith gathering of various religious leaders to pray for rain on Thursday at 2pm.

Who’ll be there? Well, various religious leaders including:

representatives from various churches, the Muslim Judicial Council, the Western Cape Christian Ministers’ Association, the Western Cape Traditional Leaders and Cultural Council, the Khoisan Griqua Royal House, the Bahaí Community of South Africa, the Tushita Kadampa Buddhist Centre, and the Hindu and Jewish communities.

Inter-faith indeed. All the major food groups listed there. No atheists, which is a bit awkward in our supposedly secular society, but I guess it might have been awkwarder still (I know) were we represented…

De Lille says:

“The residents and businesses of Cape Town have made great efforts to save water but we have to do more and we especially need the rains to come.”

Right. A few issues here. And I’m not going to spend too long on going through these. I’m too irritated to elaborate on stuff. It’ll involve swearing. Even this condensed version may involve swearing. Seriously, I’m literally just about to write it, and it really feels like it will involve some swearing right now.

1. Prayers don’t work. Evidence for this includes the repeated praying for no more terrorist attacks in Europe.

2. Also that whole Angus Buchan thing on Freedom Day.

3. And the annual SA Police Service prayer day for no more crime.

4. If prayers do actually work, then why didn’t you pray for rain earlier?

5. Oh wait. You did. And it didn’t work.

6. Look, I do realise that just because you’re spending your time doing this, it’s not that more practical solutions aren’t being organised: dams being dredged, other water sources being investigated and the like. But…

7. My rates – including my (understandably) inflated water tariff – are paying for you to attend this crap. And that’s annoying, because no matter what you were doing instead of sitting on the bloody mountain with your friends chatting to their various sky fairies this afternoon, it would offer me and the rest of the city’s ratepayers a far better return for our hard earned money.

8. If, when it rains tomorrow, as it is forecast to do (and as it has been forecast to do all week), and you or your god-bothering mates then claim that your Table Mountain meeting has yielded positive, tangible results, I may just go flipping postal. In a very reserved, British way, obviously.

Very restrained on the language there, well done me.

Look, I know you’re not going to read this, Patricia.
I know you’re not going to read it because you never read my towing an iceberg from Antarctica and dumping it in Franschhoek solution to the current water crisis; a solution which I have implored you to respond to on several occasions; a solution which I made up merely for comedic value, and which – although mathematically sound – is laughably far-fetched, but which would still be a better way of addressing the drought than you wasting everyone’s time and money on shouting at the clouds this afternoon.

What a disgrace.