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 The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!

All material copyrighted to © 2014

or to the various credited sources © 2014



The Twenty-Thirteen Thirties Reformation is filtered through

The violet-tinted lenses of choicest maps and territories

Of the Left-side of the mental hemisphere (that’s the Right

Of the political sphere) –sponsored by Saga and Atos;

Subsequently, so many of the more altruistic details

Of this Retro-Thirties time shift of material readjustments

Are edited out: for instance, there’s no atmospheric mention

Of Soroptimists Storm Jameson and Vera Brittain, and less

Evangelical beneficiaries, Violet Markham and her circles;

Nor nostalgic odours of comrades-of-the-cloth, such as

Conrad le Despenser Roden Noel, the so-called “turbulent

Priest of Thaxted”, friend to Gustav Holst, his composer-

Parishioner, and surrogate organist; was also a founding

Member of the British Socialist Party and core founder

Of the Catholic Crusade which first pitched Trotyskite thought

In the foggy change-resistant shires of England –rhetorical

Polemicist, as illustrated in a transcript from his public

Dialectic with Christadelphian Frank Jannaway during

Which Noel pitted his anthithetical riposte ‘Ought Christians

To be Socialists?’ to Jannaway’s reactionary thesis,

‘A Godless Socialism’, billed as a ‘Debate with the “Red

Vicar” Rev. Conrad Noel’, in 1909 –this crimson curate

Also incurred the rugger-aggro of Cambridge undergraduates

After he’d hung the Red Flag and Sinn Féin’s next to

St. George’s in his church –and unfortunately lost the ensuing

“Battle of the Flags”, forced to take both banners down by

Edict of the consistory court… Or Cosmo Lang, the anti-

Fascist Archbishop of Canterbury, public denouncer

Of the flattening of Guernica (albeit resistant to British

Intervention on the side of the Spanish Republic and, later,

A pacifistic supporter of Chamberlain’s attempt at Hitler-

Appeasement); Lang reclined with age into a balding conservative

With a small ‘c’, a Stanley Baldwin cast-off in a cassock, whose

Alopecia had intercepted his formerly youthful countenance

For all the pricks of his capricious Archbishopric, which

Culminated in his dummy of dotage being ritually burned

Like a Guy Fawkes effigy by conflagrations of farmers for

His defence of the ancient status quo of churchly taxes on

Agricultural incomes, during the “Tithe Wars” –such a come down

From those earlier ideological days when he cut a dash

Of radicalism in the cloth, and, as a Lord Spiritual, voted against

The Lords’ attempt at pettifoging Lloyd-George’s “People’s Budget”,

Lang’s maiden speech berating the Second Chamber’s ermined

“Unwisdom” in vetoing the progressive measures –and making

His mark, in spite of being rebuffed by Tory Lord Curzon,

And, in any case, history was on Lang’s side in this debate:

Herbert Asquith’s Government called the bluff of the Billy Goats...

...Gruff in the Lords with a snap general election in January 1910,

Securing a mandate for tax on the rich in order to fund new

Welfare for the poor… Cosmo set a precedent for outspoken

Clerics of the twentieth century, a rhetorical robustness against

Unchristian injustice, as recapitulated by Robert Runcie’s

Attitudinal opposition to Thatcherism in the Devil’s Eighties…





Today, in the twenty-first century, in spite of muscly hegemonic

Smokescreens, Archbishops Williams and Welby have kept up

The mitre of altruism, hoisted the crosier of social conscience,

Spoken up for the poor precisely at a time when politics-spun

Preconceptions are at their all-time iciest, and contrapuntal

Public opinion is flint-hearted on welfare, human sympathy

Worn thin towards the disadvantaged –at best, chillily

Phrenological, at worst, chillingly eugenicist –a time when

Comparisons to the Thirties and the First Depression are

Depressingly apposite in most respects but for today’s shock-

Absence of any identifiable parliamentary party standing

Up for the impoverished, underprivileged, unemployed,

Homeless, sick and mentally afflicted, representing

The struggles and interests of the working and non-working

Classes –the spiritually and materially oppressed– as there

Was in the politically chiliastic Thirties…In spite of Ramsay

MacDonald’s betrayal of the Labour Movement through his

Opting for a National Government with Tories in the aftermath

Of the Wall Street Crash –there was still in those turbulent

Thirties, a palpable hope for future representation

Of the working poor in an empassioned and compassionate

Opposition led, respectively, by two working-class stalwart

Socialists: Glaswegian ex-iron moulder and foundryman,

The unperturbable Arthur Henderson (nicknamed “Uncle

Arthur”) who’d been thrown from his seat by the strong gusts

Of the 1918 “coupon election”, but regained his

Grip on the green benches through a second wind from Widnes…

Conrad Noel
Cosmo Lang
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