Voices from Russia

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Lady Godiva: A Righteous Englishwoman

Cloisters Cross (King of the Confessors), walrus ivory, carved by Master Hugo, mid-12th century

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According to a well-known tradition, Lady Godiva was a noblewoman who rode naked through the streets of Coventry, covering her modesty with her long hair. She did this to free the townspeople from the taxation that her husband imposed on them. Although postmodernists doubted this story, we see no reason to doubt the backbone of the tradition, which does date from at least the twelfth century. Of course, we should avoid modern misunderstandings… for example, Coventry was then a settlement of only a few hundred people and not a major city.

Godiva  (in Old English Godgifu) was a popular name, meaning “gift of God”. Lady Godiva was probably a widow when she married Leofric, Earl of Mercia. They had one known son, Aelfgar. Both were generous benefactors to monasteries. In 1043, Leofric founded and endowed a monastery in Coventry on the site of a convent destroyed by the Danes in 1016, Godiva being the moving force behind this act. In the 1050s, her name and her husband’s were on a grant of land to the monastery of St Mary in Worcester and on the endowment of the minster at Stow Mary in Lincolnshire.

 She and her husband are also commemorated as benefactors of other monasteries in Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham. Lady Godiva also gave Coventry a number of works in precious metal by the famous goldsmith Mannig and bequeathed a necklace valued at 100 Marks of silver. Another necklace went to Evesham for the figure of the Virgin accompanying the life-size gold and silver rood she and her husband gave, and St Paul’s Cathedral received a gold-fringed chasuble. She and her husband were among the most generous Old English donors in the last decades before the Norman Conquest.

Wulviva and Godiva (usually held to be Godiva and her sister) gave the manor of Woolhope in Herefordshire, along with four others, to the Cathedral in Hereford before the Norman Conquest. Her signature appears on a charter purportedly given by Thorold of Bucknall to the monastery of Spalding. It is possible that this Thorold, the Sheriff of Lincolnshire, was her brother. Leofric died in 1057, but Lady Godiva lived on, dying sometime between 1066 and 1086. The Domesday survey mentions her as the only Englishwoman to remain a major landholder shortly after the Norman Occupation. There seems little reason to doubt that her grave is with her husband’s in Coventry.

3 July 2018

Archpriest Fr Andrew Phillips

Orthodox England

http://www.events.orthodoxengland.org.uk/lady-godiva-a-righteous-englishwoman/

Thursday, 23 June 2016

23 June 2016. A Thought From Oscar Wilde…

00 Karol Nienartowicz. Stairway to the Castle. 2014 Oscar Wilde. 220616

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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Russia to Honour Horwich World War Two Veteran Canon Colin Craston for Arctic Convoy Service

00 brit WW2 vet 02. UK. 04.10.14

Canon Craston in World War II as a Royal Navy rating

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00 brit WW2 vet 01. UK. 04.10.14

Canon Craston today

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A 91-year-old World War II veteran will be honoured for his bravery… by the Russians. Canon Colin Craston, of Lever Park Avenue, Horwich, will receive a medal from the Russian Federation for his service in Arctic convoys. The medal, with the presentation at Manchester Town Hall on 13 October, is to recognise his work as a wireless telegraphist on HMS Eclipse, an E-class destroyer of the Royal Navy, from March 1942 to March 1943. Canon Craston, a great-grandfather, received eight medals over the years recognising his Navy service, but next month’s event will mark the first time he’s ever personally received a medal. He said, “I’m very, very pleased to be receiving this medal… it’s a great privilege. I’ve heard for a long time that the Russians wanted to honour those who served in the convoys and I look forward to being given a medal in person. I remember my war years well. There were dreadful weather conditions along the way… ice, gale storms, you name it. I appreciated the experience… it was very interesting”.

Canon Craston sailed from Iceland to Russia in the destroyer, but his captain sent him ashore, as he’d been selected for a commission. Seven months after he left the destroyer, it sank in the Aegean Sea east of Kalymnos, Greece, killing 119 of the 145 crew members on-board. Canon Craston said, “My life was absolutely dependent on coming off that ship… my friends and colleagues were all on it. I’m 91 years old, yet I could’ve died aged 20. I didn’t even have to come off it. I didn’t find out it had sunk until seven months after it happened”. Canon Craston went to America to repair an aircraft carrier and went on to serve in the Far East, along the Indian Ocean, from 1943 to 1945. Originally, he’s from Preston, but moved to Bolton in 1954, where he served as priest of St Paul’s Church in Deansgate until 1966, and of St Paul’s with Emmanuel Church in Vicarage Street, Daubhill, until 1993. Canon Craston has two children, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He’ll attend the ceremony with his wife Brenda and daughter Carolyn Edmunds.

 2 October 2014

Neil Robertson

The Bolton (Lancashire. ENGLAND. UK) News

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/11509106.Horwich_World_War_Two_veteran_to_be_honoured_by_Russia/?ref=rss

Sunday, 1 July 2012

YOU SAY “Помидор”; I SAY “Помідор”

The Wednesday Morning Fights (at the Rada, not the Garden)

Sergei Yolkin

2010

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This cartoon is from two years ago… “the more things change, the more they stay the same”… pass the jug…

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Last week, fists flew in the Ukrainian parliament over the latest attempt to grant the Russian language a measure of official status in the country. Fat politicians brawled with other fat politicians, whilst outside, an angry crowd protested. From her jail cell, former Prime Minister Yuliya Timoshenko denounced the bill as a “crime”. Earlier, she had characterised it as an apparently sacrilegious assault on “an issue that’s holy for many of us”. Timoshenko, who could not speak Ukrainian until she was 36, is a demagogue. Nevertheless, the word “holy” reveals the extremes of passion felt on this subject. Politically and culturally, language is a hot kartofel (or should I say kartoplia?) in the Ukraine and the “Russian Question” provokes defensive outrage from Ukrainian nationalists.

I witnessed Ukrainian language policies in action in 2005, when I visited Kiev. I confess that I thought it rather strange that many people were speaking Russian, but all of the signage was in Ukrainian. The apotheosis of absurdity came when I watched a Russian action movie, where the credits were in Ukrainian, but the language of the film was Russian. Pretentiously, there were English language signs on some government buildings, but nothing in Russian. I also recall a story about a town in the Western Ukraine, where some micro-fascists had banned Russian pop from the airwaves. The struggle to impose the Ukrainian language by force on the country’s large Russian-speaking population, about 30% of the total, has a long pedigree. In his fascinating book, The Affirmative Action Empire, Terry Martin details a barking-mad attempt in the early revolutionary period to compel everybody working in government administration to switch from Russian to Ukrainian in two years… a move that Moscow endorsed in order to defeat “Great Russian Nationalism”. It failed because it was a stupid idea, and ground to a complete halt when Stalin, a Russifying Georgian, came to power.

Of course, it’s natural that many Ukrainians feel anxious about their language. Russia is a powerful neighbour located right next door. The Ukraine has only been independent for 20 years, and nationalists fear that the use of Russian will divide the nation, and threaten its very identity. However, the country already has sharp divisions, and what, in fact, is that identity? It’s not as if all those Russian speakers in the Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea arrived last week to destabilise a hitherto homogenous Ukrainian culture. Most Russians living in the Ukraine were born there. The only reason the Russian-speaking Crimea is part of the country because Nikita Khrushchyov “gifted” it in 1954 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Ukraine’s union with Russia. The Russian Empire captured New Russia in the south-eastern Ukraine in the 18th century, and both Russians and Ukrainians settled there. For centuries, there was no border, and Kiev is the “mother city” of Russians and Ukrainians alike. Russian is also the lingua franca of most of the other long-established ethnic minorities in the Ukraine.

The millions of Russian speakers in Ukraine are hardly interlopers, then. Some are as “indigenous” as the ethnic Ukrainians themselves. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that many object to the policy of forced Ukrainisation, active since the 1990s, which has seen education in the Russian language largely eradicated and eastern and southern government offices conducting business in a tongue predominantly spoken in the western half of the country. Embarrassingly, the independent and democratic Ukraine is more oppressive in this regard than was Brezhnev’s USSR was in 1970. At that time, in the autonomous region of Tatarstan, 70 percent of schooling was conducted in Tatar, not Russian. By 1990, schooling in Tatar had dropped to 24 percent. By 2001, however, the figure was at 49.3 percent and rising. Thus, Russia… the Grand Villain of Ukrainian nationalism… grants its linguistic minorities more rights than the independent democratic Ukraine.

Perhaps, I’m more relaxed about language because although I’m Scottish, I speak Standard English, not Gaelic, and don’t feel any less Scottish for it. I freely admit that the Scots and the English are very similar, just as Ukrainians and Russians are very similar. Life is too short to dwell on the narcissism of small differences. Meanwhile, in Texas, I see Spanish language signs all the time, most often in big stores, because the politics of immigration aside, it’s good for business if your clientele can read the signs. Second-generation immigrants assimilate and become bilingual, because if you don’t learn English you’re doomed to a life of low-paying menial jobs.

Perhaps, if Ukrainian politicians could concentrate less on punching each other in the face and focus more on giving Ukraine a prosperous future, the language issue would become less contentious. Anybody with ambition who wanted to play in the big leagues would be motivated to learn the language of the unitary centre, which is Ukrainian and will remain so. Russian speakers might look over the border at their cousins and feel pity. They might even read a volume of Taras Shevchenko’s poetry by choice instead of as a legal obligation in school. Well, OK, that last one’s probably going a bit far. However, you get my drift.

1 June 2012

Daniel Kalder

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/columnists/20120601/173793426.html

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