Some people called the English civil war (1642-1651) a revolution. It left 100,000 dead, or 3.7 per cent of the population.
If, God forbid, that ever happened here, it would equate to about 2.3 million slain Thais. The war split counties, towns and villages. It ripped apart friends and families, both noble and humble, for a generation. It was grim, long and brutal, and when it was over, the great majority were no better off than when it started. Those with land and title finally sighed with relief; their money talked, the poor walked, or rather limped, barefoot, to die under some sodden hedge, leaving nothing to their families except a cow or a plough at the age of 28 or 19 - the earlier the better, as life was utter shite.
In 1662, one Londoner expressed the sincere hope that "all politicians would kill one another" so that "common people might live better". But out of it came many things. A better parliament, the first cabinet and eventually an empire (please, don't write in), the true beginnings of the rule of law, of accountability for the titled and otherwise. The word "mob" first entered the language, and for many years the propertied classes held a totally justified fear of the dangers of carrying things to extremes and learned the vital lesson of the virtues of compromise. It all took time. There were no smooth lines of progression. The poor were still poor, but they would never again be silenced. It was the crossroads of England's being, and it was one hell of a crossroads.
Away from the carnage-strewn fields and lanes of English history, maybe a revolution is necessary here. Not one of street brawls, bullets and ignorant manipulation, but a conscious, open revolt for a fundamental shift of power towards those who deserve it; a revolution against the notion that spoilt, half-witted nominee relatives in political office are better suited for command than an intelligent mechanic, an industrious market gardener, an earnest teacher, a bright programmer, a brave doctor; a revolt against elections that are more rigged than HMS Victory; a revolt against the weak capacity for individual thought and judgement and to drive from public office those with only an appetite for the views of the entrenched and influential, with all its perks and obeisance; a new aristocracy - of talent, vision and service, to King and country.
In short, a government based on the merits of its members, not their name, bloodline, or bank account but on those who have one and only one desire: to use their intelligence to help the country achieve its incredible potential. It would mean the end of tribal law and Soprano goon rule. Imagine that.
Some 50 million people have read "The Da Vinci Code", some of them without moving their lips, and can probably answer any of the fictional questions it throws up. This is what makes the government's push for charter amendment so utterly disingenuous. Do you know anybody who has read the Constitution, seen it and understood it? Neither do I. And they want to ask you whether you want it changed. No details, no insight, no debate. Yes or No. For Bt2 billion. Anyway, throwing bags full of urine at the PAD is the best advertisement for not changing the charter I know.
As my shrewd Thai landlady, who has spent much time in Europe, observed, "We should remember what your King Victoria said and apply it to us: 'We are incurable as a nation, though so charming as individuals'."
"If he stops telling lies about me, I'll stop telling the truth about him."
Quote of the week:
"'We Russians like Wayne Rooney because he looks like Shrek."
Letter of the week
Sir, Your report, "Bored stiff by ironing" (May 2), claimed that women "would rather spend the time sleeping than ironing while men would rather have sex".
I never realised we had a choice.
Peter Wade. (The Times, London)
Its comforting to know that the French and English have always been so cordial to one another at the highest levels. As Robert and Isabelle Tombs point out in their excellent book "That Sweet Enemy",
"Meetings between the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and President Charles de Gaulle took place at the presidential château at Rambouillet and at Macmillan's house in Sussex. These were picturesque occasions. During one visit, the Macmillans' cook refused to find room in her fridge for de Gaulle's blood (for transfusion in case of another assassination attempt) 'because it's full of haddock'".