Wednesday, September 21, 2005

History Friday on a Wednesday: Rockall "Joins" The Commonwealth

"Ok chaps, we want you to go and camp on a desolate rock in order to periodically establish British sovereignty. No different than being posted to the Falklands, except no penguin shit and no uppity locals."

Oh September 21st! A day of great rejoicing throughout the United Kingdom, with street parties, bunting, and parades! For it was on this day in 1955 that Rockall was siezed by order of the Queen! Admittedly, not an event on the scale of the Louisiana Purchase, or even the embarrassing aquisition of an empire in the 18th and 19th centuries, but its the best we could manage in the fifties:

"1955: Britain claims Rockall
Britain has annexed a rocky islet 300 miles (483km) west of Scotland to stop the Soviets spying on missile tests, the Admiralty has announced. The UK formally claimed uninhabited Rockall, which is just 70ft (21m) high, on 18 September at 1016 GMT.

Two Royal Marines and a civilian naturalist, led by Royal Navy officer First Lieutenant Commander Desmond Scott, raised a Union flag on the island and cemented a plaque into the rock. The islet is within reach of the planned guided missile range in the Hebrides and the British government feared foreign spies could use it as an observation post.

Queen Elizabeth authorised the annexation on 14 September.

Her orders stated: "On arrival at Rockall you will effect a landing and hoist the Union flag on whatever spot appears most suitable or practicable and you will then take possession of the island on our behalf." (the rest...)"

The James Bond, keep those commies from spying on our spectacularly crap missiles, imperative has of course now faded, but like the tradition bound/resource hungry odd little hobbits we Brits are, we still claim Rockall as our own, even going so far as to occasionally send idiots out to live on it to prove its a viable part of the British Isles. The last reference I found to one of these missions was in 1985 (shows what an impact it had on me at the time: I was firmly convinced the government still sent people to hang out there). Maybe I should cure myself of my mild Rockall obsession by emulating this guy.

Happy Rockall Day, one and all: the roast puffin is on me! Man, its amazing the crap that governments come up with when they have time on their hands, isn't it?


Weasel's Little Bruva said...

At last a forum for me to raise my issues with Ben Fogle "King of Rockall" author of your last link. He has long been a matter of debate in our household. Whilst I would gladly see him relocate for ever to Rockall and stop his meddling with Country File (I developed a strange interest in this show since moving to "the home of the Quorn"),the Fabster seems to think he is a "Jolly Nice Man".

Since he joined the show there has been a noticible shift away from my favoured lengthy pieces on the effect of TB on milk yields in badger country to more jocular short films. This is not an entertainment show after all. They even have a photo contest now!!

Come to think of it he could take Titchmarsh with him. A bit of a tangent I know, but another example of the petty issues that have started to vex me as I get older.

weasel said...

I had no idea that Fogle was anything other than one of those stunt comics who copied Dave Gorman. He presents Country File in a jocular, lifestyle tv manner? What next? Trisha hosting the Bandung File? Get mother onto it, now that she is a muckedy muck in the Min of Ag and Fish.

I always wondered where they grew quorn. I had no idea it was in Leicestershire.

weasel's little bruva said...

Fogle started his TV career as a member of the ill fated BBC "Castaway" project where they set adrift 30 or so annoying people on a hebridean island on Millenium eve for a year, showed a few programs and then abandoned the series due to poor figures. The only plus point was that they neglected to remove the people from the island for a year.

Then just as we thought it was safe Fogle re-appeared on Country File and some show about Longleat. We can only hope the lions get him.

I will have to send you a picture of the Quorn Vines.

weasel said...

Quorn tastes so good and realistic that I have to believe that it is Soylent Green