Thursday 30 April 2015

Britain is a country with a county called Kent and Faversham, no town for an old 'Monty Python' cameraman called John Wellard

Seventy-one year old John Wellard lives in the historic town of Faversham in North Kent and is one of several hundred locals involved in a public debate about the future of historic buildings beside the Creek which was once a centre of industry and repair for Thames sailing barges.There are plans to regenerate the area, but the campaigners are concerned that Faversham Town Council is favouring the area being turned over to developers for expensive flats.

For the past five months, satirical images mocking some of the councillors and other public figures have been handed around pubs and posted through doors as well as brown envelopes stuffed with copies of old Venezuelan banknotes bearing the inscription :
‘If you find this message please return it to your councillor.’

One of the posters.
One image poked fun at Swale Borough Councillor Mike Cosgrove, riding a toy donkey, while another showed Town Mayor Nigel Kay and other local public figures being described as ‘a growing problem in the heart of Kent’.

Clearly the worthy councillors were not best pleased and Councillor Tom Gates said that they had agreed that the lampooning material was a 'criminal matter' and "I had one of these brown envelopes through my letterbox. It just got way out of hand. I’ve never been offered a bribe. I would certainly like people to be prosecuted. We’re in a democracy but shouldn’t have abuse or derogatory remarks thrown at us."

John was identified as one of the perpetrators behind the 'criminal' material and on Friday morning opened his front door and was confronted with six police officers and said : "For a second I thought it was some elaborate strippergram. They told me they would search the house and I was taken to the police station for questioning. I feel almost flattered that I would be thought of as such a threat to the fabric of law and order that they should see fit to send six coppers round to arrest a pensioner with no criminal record, in his dressing gown."

Arrested for 'harassment', he was quizzed for two hours and 'under caution'. He chose to give a "no comment" answer to every question and said : "I refused to make any comment, not as a measure of my guilt, but I don’t believe that I, or anyone else concerned, have done anything wrong. In politics people make criticisms and say all kinds of insulting things – if they can’t take the joke they shouldn’t join. When the six police were about to search the house I joked that : “I wasn’t expecting the Spanish Inquisition”, but it fell a bit flat. I don’t think anyone got the reference to a famous Monty Python sketch. At some point I must have been un-arrested because they then told me I wasn’t under arrest."

"It was completely Pythonesque. Lampoonery and satire have been part of British public life for centuries. Why have six policemen threatened to go through my belongings just because a few feathers have been ruffled? Freedom of speech is being whittled away."

He believes his name had been given to Kent Police because one of the posters involved a joke from the 1979 Monty Python film, 'Life of Brian' and he had worked as a tv cameraman for the 1970s 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'.

Commenting on his arrest he said : “I wasn’t as terrified as I think I ought to have been on Friday, but I think it was just a very sad reflection on the nature of politics today. Satire and lampooning have been at the very centre of British political life for centuries, so I don’t think this merits police action. Does David Cameron call out the cops every time he’s portrayed in a cartoon with a condom on his head or his Y-fronts over his clothes? I just think this whole thing is a complete overreaction.”

On reflection :

Five hundred and seventy-eight years ago in 1593, the Elizabethan playwright and foremost tragedian, Christopher Marlowe was 29 years old and probably knew the town of Faversham well, since his youth was spent in Canterbury, 9 miles away and his father came from the village of Ospringe, close by.
Chistopher lived in an age before freedom of speech and expression had been established in the realm of England and in London on 18 May, a warrant was issued for his arrest. No reason was given, though it was thought to be connected to 'allegations of blasphemy'—a manuscript believed to have been written by him was said to contain 'vile heretical conceipts'. On 20 May he was brought to the court to attend upon the Privy Council for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day, however, and he was commanded to attend upon them each day thereafter until 'licensed to the contrary'. Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer and whether this was connected to his arrest has never been resolved. Either way, England, in an age when freedom of speech was strictly limited and the many battles to achieve it had yet to be fought and won, lost the genius who gave it 'Doctor Faustus' and six other plays in his shortened life.



A file through a cake - an old-age symbol of breaking out of prison.A couple of days ago John found a hand-delivered package on his doorstep, a brown envelope marked 'John', which  contained a well-crafted cake with a metal file through the middle : a traditional form of assistance in breaking out of prison.

John said : "I'm now the butt of some satirical humour and I really don't mind. I won't be calling the police, that's for sure. Whoever sent this, I thank them very, very much."


Tuesday 28 April 2015

Britain is a country and Scotland a nation which say "Farewell" to an old conservationist called Dick Balharry

Dick, who has died at the age of seventy-seven was, throughout his life, an indefatigable champion of Scotland's mountain and woodland nature.

What you possibly didn't know about Dick, that He :

* was born in the village of Muirhead Of Liff, near Dundee, before the outbreak of the Second World War in 1938, the son of a  builder father and recalled he "was given total freedom to explore the woods, marshes and fields and these became my natural habitat. Little escorted walks soon became lonesome adventures" and "school for me was a bit of an impediment, because it took up time I wanted to other things with " which involved his menagerie of three jackdaws, kestrels he'd trained to bring back mice, a pair of jays and brown rats : "I'd tamed them and petted them, so I could take them to school and put them in a desk and, of course, the teachers weren't very happy with that."

* recalled his extra-curricula activities :  "As a wee boy I snared rabbits and caught them for the table for eating. Very quickly I was breeding them to find out how a black rabbit becomes a brown rabbit or a brown becomes a black. So within no time at all I was 'studying' although I was unaware I was studying the vagaries of nature and what happens and the wonders of it" and "I soon realized that the natural world presented more questions than answers, not to mention that my activities also provided me with a healthy diet and a fast pair of legs."

* left school in 1953 and "at sixteen years old, on completion of a year at Dundee Engineering Trades College, I turned up for work at an engineering plant. Whatever my destiny I knew then that working in a factory was off the agenda." "It was unbelievable because the noise the smell, the oil, smoke and I thought, 'Oh no, this is not for me'. So I ran out the door 20 minutes later."

* faced a dilemma : "I couldn't go home and I thought : 'what am I going to do now ?' So I went to the local newsagent and found the 'Oban Times' and there was a job as a gamekeeper at a place called Tighnabruach. Phoned for an interview. Took a bus Dundee to Glasgow. Arrived 11 o'clock at night, dark moon, january. I knocked on this big oak door. Knocked and knocked. Nobody came. Thought : 'I'll try one last go'. So I bent down an picked up a granite curran stone and beat the hell out of this door, maybe about 10 minutes. And a light came on and a voice came from the back of the door : "what d'you want ?" and I said :" I'm here for and interview", she said : "Oh well, you'd better come in, there's a bed over there and I'll see you in the morning."

* on that January morning in 1953, met and was given the job of a kennel boy and keeper's assistant by the head gamekeeper, John Bird who "was a very traditional game keeper : traps, snares, bullets, so it was a 'killing exercise' rather than anything else, but he was a master at his  own art in terms of catching and killing 'vermin' as he would call it. "

* took to taming young animals he was meant to be killing, including a raven called 'Rory' which "a friend for me, it went everywhere with me and in no time at all it was talking" and when invited to a meal with Mr and Mrs Bird, followed him and who together shouted  : "Get that dirty black b...... bird out of here", a sentence he practised with the bird and which it repeated when it joined him at sunday lunch with the local church minister, which "did not go down very well and I'm afraid the raven and I were asked to leave."

*  was forced to say "Goodbye" to the estate on the Kyles of Bute, where he loved to watch the paddle steamer, 'Waverley' come and go, when he found that his pet fox and Rory the raven were not compatible with the landlord’s view of a gamekeeper and an ultimatum was given to the head keeper ""either the pets go, or he goes" – so I left with my furry and feathered friends."

* became a deerstalker in Glen Lyon in 1957, at the age of 20 "under the watchful eye of Archie MacDonald the Head Stalker"  "He was the one who really trained me in what I would call 'the soft arts of the hills', by that I mean when you go to the hill you see things, but 'understanding' what you see and 'interpreting' that in a way that has meaning not in terms of that bit of the hill, but all of the hill and not just all of the hill but all of the estate."

* in 1959 at the applied for and with Archie's support, got the job of one of the first deer stalkers with the newly formed 'Deer Commission' and found the "opportunity to work across the whole of Scotland pulled me into a new phase of my life, albeit still focused firmly on red deer. While travelling the length and breadth of Scotland culling marauding deer and marking deer calves, I often found my attention diverted to the signs, tracks, dens and eyries of other animals – wildcats peregrines, eagles and even martens."

Pinewoods at the Beinn Eighe NNR* three years later, in 1962, was appointed warden of 'Beinn Eighe' in Wester Ross, Britain's first National Nature Reserve and for the interview in London : "Went down there. Grabbed a suit on the way in Thurso, a hairy tweedy suit and marched into twelve Belgrave's Office wearing this itchy, hairy suit and wearing upturned trousers in over my boots, like someone with hair growing out of their ears" and at the age of 24, was given responsibility for more than 10,000 acres of mountain and Caledonian pinewood.

* found the primary focus at the Reserve was on research and working with scientists, in 1964 investigated the poisoning of golden eagles by DDT, helped get pesticides banned in the wilds of Wester Ross and made a significant ornithological discovery when he found a greenshank nest housing five eggs.

* returning to Beinn Eighe in 2009, almost fifty years later, explained that he got a "great kick" from seeing again, the then tiny native trees and "now I go to them and I can hug them and my hands cannot touch at the other side and that to have happened in my lifetime I think is quite remarkable."

* got his first introduction "to what I might loosely call 'The Establishment'" and saw how "networks based on wealth, social status, formal qualifications and public education, influence decision making and how they often over-ride logic and evidence to protect their own interests. Being “out of the loop” as one might say, it was soon clear that my dream job came with limited ability to influence decisions taken in Edinburgh and London. Tactful advocacy, persuasion, passion and promoting public support became the tools of my trade."

in 1964 visited Glen Feshie, both at a time when "there were no young trees that were being grown from the native seed and that had gone on for about a hundred and sixty years" and was beginning to formulate his opposition to tree planting as unnatural and, as he later said : "We don't need it. No matter where you go in Scotland you will see birch thriving. Pines will thrive from the seed of 9000 years ago, that generation. So the idea that you need to plant and cost the tax payer a lot of money by planting. Why ? All we need to do is to encourage this natural process that will follow, if we give it the thrust."

*  the age of 32 in 1969, was rebuffed when he found that "educative foreign travel was the province of the 'Officers', in essence those with degrees rather than 'Wardens' with field skills" but with "with determination and family support", broke the culture and attended a course on the 'Administration of National Parks' visiting "most of the Mid-West National Parks in the USA and Canada along with 40 other delegates chosen from around the World for their experience rather than academic prowess. This was a turning point in my life and fueled my desire to drive change and promote the benefits and joys of Scotland’s natural heritage to a wider audience, by whatever means I could."

* later recalled, 'the intensity of the occasion', when, in the same year and in his physical prime, climbed to the top of Stac Lee in the St. Kilda Islands, with fellow conservationist, John Morton Boyd, who addressed the scene of 'Hirta and Soay and the nearer cathedral like spires of Boreay and Stac an Armin with passion, experience and deep knowledge of those oceanic islands.'

* in the late seventies, was working as the local officer of the Nature Conservancy Council in Aviemore and then played a pivotal role in the management of Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve when the Council bought it in 1985 and was responsible for the successful regeneration of birch woods in Coire Ardair, achieved by the capture and removal of  hundreds of deer and taking out the traditional sheep grazing, which allowed saplings to prosper and, in addition, without detriment, refused to fence the regenerated woodland.

* in 1992 witnessed his friend Magnus Magnusson become founder Chairman on the Scottish Natural Heritage, who teased him that if he had appeared on 'Mastermind' he would have triumphed in one of his specialist subjects :  'pine martens', 'golden eagles' or 'Scots pines'.

* used his reputation to reach out to a wider audience and engaged with shepherds, top civil servants, hill walkers and royalty, used the media to get his message across, appearing on radio and television programmes, and through his papers, publications and books which included 'Beinn Eighe, The Mountain above the Wood, the first 50 years of Britain’s first National Nature Reserve,' which he co-authored and a dozen official trips abroad which included Azerbijhan, Cyprus, USA, Canada and New Zealand.

* in the 1990's was a contributor to Grampian Television series, 'Country Matters' dealing with wild mink : and the regeneration of the Caledonian pine forest : and red grouse : and the rise of the River Dee in the Cairngorms : and the problems of forest regeneration : and on the 'The Art Sutter Show' talking about an 'Animals Charter' :

* at the age of 59, was made an MBE in 1996 for 'Services to Conservation' and the following year retired from Scottish Natural Heritage as the Area Manager for Badenoch and Strathspey.

* saw the problems of Scotland's hills as overgrazing and over burning and "a landscape which is not giving good public benefit for the people who live and work in the countryside", but was heartened by developments like those at Glen Feshie, which he had visited half a century before and found "no young trees that were being grown from the native seed" and after his persuasion of its Danish owner, Anders Holch Povlson, that it could be managed in such a way, that it could be successful as a 'sporting estate', was able to say : "Here's an estate that's being invested in. There are trails, tracks for people to walk on. Access is at a hundred percent. You can go when you like, where ever you like and the return to the public in seeing a Caledonian forest rooted again, revived again."

*  became an opponent of fencing because "if you build a fence, you build a plantation and when you build a plantation then that is a sort of artificial reality, because there are no deer in it, so the trees are not 'moulded' by the deer or the creatures that live in there and they should be part of that and that's the important thing I plead with people :"Do not put fences up, because fences are unnatural and what's more they are a means of controlling deer, rather than the opposite way round", whereby we should be controlling deer, but in its entity, not just here and there in wee bits."

* remained passionate for an "empowerment of those who owned the land. Because at the end of the day, Scotland is privately owned and what we've got to do is transfer that empowerment to them and say : "You've got a choice. You can either do what we're asking you to do, or you can go your own way. And if you want to go your own way, you build a fence and you put your deer in it. But but if you want to be empowered by what were talking about here, then the thing to do is to really stop and think : "What would happen if I did this ?""

* became Chairman of the 'John Muir Trust' from 2003-10 and helped change it into a professional, campaigning NGO and in 2010, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Abertay University and served as Chairman, President and latterly, Honorary Vice President of 'Ramblers Scotland'.

* was a long-standing Council Member of the National Trust for Scotland and as 'Interim Chairman' in 2009-10, instituted changes to the Charity’s stance on deer culling and was beginning to see benefits on the Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms, only to see the new Chair, Sir Kenneth Calman, 'allegedly' under pressure from the ‘Establishment’, in the shape of the Prince of Wales, drop the new deer management policy in favour of traditional deer shooting which he described as “embodying the selfish greed of a Victorian era.”

* in 2013 as President of 'Ramblers Scotland' successfully used his rhetoric to lead the public campaign to force the Ministry of Defence to withdraw its bid to extend its biggest British bombing range at Cape Wrath with the public statement that : 'No other European nation would ever consider that such a fantastic part of their coastline should be used as a NATO firing range. The MoD would never consider, for one second, that Land's End or the White Cliffs of Dover should be subject to such abuse. Cape Wrath is an outstanding part of our nation's heritage, an end-point for famous walking trails and a vital ingredient in supporting the local economy. It is time for the MoD to be sent home, to think again.'

* remained critical of aspects of public policy and asked : How is it fair that a land manager who chooses to reduce deer numbers to enhance the habitat and forest cover, has to pay to ‘fence out’ deer from neighbouring estates who continue to artificially prop up high densities of deer, instead of those neighbouring estates being forced to 'fence in' their deer ? and also stressed the apparent absence of any integrated vision as to what constitutes the 'Public Interest' in Scotland.

* shortly before he died, received the 'Patrick Geddes Medal' by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his 'Outstanding Services to Countryside Conservation', appropriately at Glen Feshie and surrounded by family and friends, asked to share the award with his wife Adeline and used the event to highlight his hopes for the future of environmental land management in Scotland expressed in his paper : 'DELIVERING CHANGE THROUGH VISION, EMPOWERMENT AND RECOGNITION'. in which he argued 'for land management that delivers on an agreed long term vision.'

* stated, with perfect self-effacement in his paper : 'On reflection my career has been a vocation, privileged and fortunate. I am always pleased to hear that my interest in the natural world has helped inspire others and if, through my talks and media presentations, I have contributed to developing the interests of a wider public, then that is a worthwhile legacy.'

* said on April 15th, when interviewed by Mark Stephen for 'Out of Doors' on BBC Radio Scotland, in bed and just seven days before his death : "Now at the end of my life, I am content.. rather than thinking : 'well you should have another twenty years life'. I am content, because of what I've done and what I've seen. Rather than saying : "I'm sad to leave". Of course I'm sad to leave, but at the same time you realise that the contentment and the joy you've had is absolutely incredible. So why shouldn't I be content ? And it's that sort of enjoyment of being able to say : "Well I've had a wonderful innings. I've had a wonderful life."

and, in what might be a suitable epitaph :

"If I go outside. Even now. In this state.
The wonders of nature are absolutely incredible and the more that we learn, the more we need to know."

Who also died this year :

Friday, 6 March 2015

Britain is no longer a for and says "Farewell" to a scarce 'old' permaculturalist called Patrick Whitefield

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old historical ecologist called Oliver Rackham

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Britain is a country which once made and has now lost its scarce 'old' historian, Professor Chris Bayly

The death of Chris, who has died in Chicago at the age of sixty-nine, has deprived the world in general and India in particular of one of its greatest historians.

What you possible didn't know about Chris, that he :

* was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent in l945, just before the end of the Second World War, the son of a strict mother from an Evangelical background, who had left grammar school at the age of 16, wrote well and encouraged his painting and intellectual ambitions and a father who, he recalled was, in the 1930s, "indentured into the Merchant Navy at the age of 15, something to do with the Financial Crisis", took reading seriously and was "very good at making me write and I think that was the most important thing he did for me : made me write and made me write long sentences and was quite rigorous about it."

* in 1953, was eight years old when his father retired from the Navy after "an extremely wide-ranging career" which had seen him import copra from India, deliver machinery to the USA and return home via the Pacific and during the War, serve on the Atlantic Run and on one occasion, the dangerous Arctic Run to the USSR and recalled : "so I had an early introduction to colonial and world history through my Father" who, in addition, became a geography teacher in a boys' secondary modern school in Tunbridge Wells.

* remembered, when he was 7 or so, talks with his Grandfather, a London cockney who had fought in the First World War in the Egyptian Campaign, then Palestine, before Turkey, where he was wounded by Ottoman plane gunfire, hospitalised in Egypt "where he was, in effect, educated, because he was from a pretty poor background, but his stories were absolutely fascinating and I grew up listening to differences between Indian soldiers on the Eastern Font and how the Australians were almost always out of control" and "this was one of the interests that started me in History."

* recalled : "From an early age was very interested in earlier history and I think that's where the bug bit me" and was taken to old villages and Norman castles in Kent and Sussex and a Neolithic dig at 'High Rocks' with his father, where his scraping revealed a flint axe head.

* passed his 11+ to Skinner School, a boys' grammar in 1956 and with the encouragement of his young, Oxbridge educated teachers, studied 'A' levels in Latin, Greek, Ancient History and History and applied to read History at Baliol College Oxford after reading, at the age of 17 in Samson's 'Anatomy of Britain' that it was the best.

* was interviewed in the record breaking winter of 1962 by Christopher Hill who asked : "What do you make of James I ?" "I said "he was an old man in a hurry" and Christopher grunted, in the way that he did and then said "he was considerably younger than me." So the poor interviewee more or less collapsed at that point. The interview came to an end, but somehow I got in."

* as an undergraduate, enjoyed tutorials with Richard Cobb, who, a little the worse for wine, would "go out on the balcony overlooking the Broad Street and proclaim the speeches of Robespierre to the tramps who'd gathered below and would look up and wonder 'what the hell was going on ?'" and was about to specialise in Russian History in his final year because he thought it was the future : "the peasantry and all that stuff", but changed his mind at the age of 20 in 1965, after a summer trip to India with a friend.

*  had taken the Orient Express to Istanbul, a bus across an Iran in the last days of the Shah, then a windowless train in Pakistan, where a serious chest infection confined him to Quetta Civil Hospital for a week and where he was mistakenly told he only had a week to live, then to be told : "Sorry, it's the man in the next bed", then on to Gwalior where his student friend Derek had taught, met people and "So, I got interested in India."

*  had to travel south to Karachi to avoid the India-Pakistan war zone and took a Shia pilgrimage boat to Basra and as a result : "I got a sense of India from the other side. Not dropping out of an aircraft. India in West Asia and particularly the Muslim dimension. So that was a very formative experience" and in addition "It was absolutely formative for my interest in world history to go out overland and come back a different way overland."

* chose the one Indian module available in his last year at Oxford and was taught by his tutor, Ashin Das Gupta, who eschewed the 'Empire from above' approach and said "I'm going to tell you about India", graduated with a 'first class degree' and followed M.A. with a scholarship at St.Antony's College and PhD thesis supervised by Jack Gallagher "a great influence as a writer and as a person who'd throw ideas your way. He wasn't the sort of chap to actually read what you wrote."

*a was taken under the wing of Sarvepalli Gopal, son of the second President of India and biographer of Nehru, a nationalist who persuaded him to work on the local history of Indian nationalism and suggested the town of Allahbad in North India, from where Nehru and other nationalist leaders had come.

* from 1968-70, between the age of 23 and 25, stayed in Allahbad and worked on his semi-anthropological history asking people about the ancestors of the nationalists he was studying at a time when a top down 'imperialist approach' was still the norm and said later : "at that point History seemed to be very general and largely structured around the history of great men so I wanted to look at the social background in a particular Indian city during the freedom struggle against colonial rule."

* in 1970 moved to the University of Cambridge "it was a very informal, almost patronage system in those days so Jack (Gallagher) phoned Eric (Stokes) : "Eric, have you got a job there for this funny person called Bayly that I've got ?" He said : "Maybe we do" and that was it " initialy a research fellow at the 'Centre for South Asian Studies' and then a fellow at St Catherine's under the wing of Eric.

* found Cambridge "quite a peculiar place in the 1970s" and spent his first dinner in college discussing 'the form of the cross in chapel' but working with staff who had overseas experience during the War who,"when I first went to Cambridge people used to sit around smoking their pipes and talking about the constitution of New Zealand or the Caribbean Islands", but nevertheless with non-European history which, while still in an imperial vein, was much broader than anything he'd encountered in Oxford.

* got his first taste of teaching non-European history when Eric asked him to do a supervision : "I had to 'get up' the Aztecs and Incas in about a week and talk to these undergraduates who were drugged up to the eyebrows in those days and rather difficult to follow to say the least. Then I got up these courses in non- European history which means Ive always had an interest in generalising about the world rather than simply 'doing India'" and was remembered by Shadid Amin as : "He wasn't a typical Oxbridge don. He was very open-minded, very excited by things around him, deeply committed to teaching a vast numbers of students who looked up to him."

* submitted his DPhil thesis : 'The Local Roots of Indian Politics: Allahabad, 1880-1920', published in 1975 and regretted that, after pressure from the publisher, OUP, he left the 'urban' but removed the 'rural' aspects and later conceded : "The first book is a bit of a mess I think. It 's somewhere between a Namierite study of Indian nationalism and the study of civil society ... It took me some years to dicover that I ought to have been saying something a bit different, nuancing the instrumentalism with the sense that this was a national movement, people had ideologies, that people were interested in the poor and so on."

* during his study of the roots of nationalism in Allahabad "became very interested in the commercial communities of Northern India because they played a major role in financing the moderate early Congress Movement before about 1920" and  decided to work on the commercial communities in Allahbad and the nearby sacred town of Banares, a major centre of trade.

* worked on "the second problematic, the relationship between British expansion in India and the Indian commercial classes and the way that, at least in the first fifty years of British rule, the British could have done nothing in India without the help of the India commercial classes who bought into their type of business because it seemed safer than the Indian rulers" and as a result, in 1983 at the age of 38, published : 'Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1780-1870.'

*  as a next step "decided to move up one stage, as it were, towards globalisation and I wrote about Indian history more generally during the early colonial period" and in 1989 at the age of 44, produced : 'Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World, 1780-1830' "I then worked on Empire and information because it seemed to a critical issue with the way that a colonial power can put together information and use information" and published 'Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870' in 1996.

* decided "to go even broader, this partly because of the teaching I'd been doing during the last 40 years, which is to really interest undergraduates in the first two years of their Cambridge course in World History, because people are very much committed to national history before they get to university and so I decided I wanted to write something broader which reflected my lectures and that's where the 'Birth of the Modern World :Global Connections and Comparisons, 1780-1914' came from" published when he was 59 in 2004.

* in 2007, when informed of his knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his 'Services to History Outside of Europe' said : "I regard this not only as a great personal honour but, as an historian of India, as recognition of the growing importance of the history of the non-western world."

* said in 2010 : "Over the last forty years I suppose Ive spent about five years doing global history. I've also done local history. I've done regional history. I've done the history of different disciplines within the profession, like economic history, so I don't see myself predominantly as a 'global historian'. What I would say is that all of these are different ways of approaching and understanding History. I'm not saying we should all be global historians now, that would be ridiculous. We want people to be working on the Commune of Paris, particular cities in India, the Industrial Revolution in Britain. However, this needs to be put into a much broader context in my view and particularly when teaching undergraduates, who often come to graduate studies with a very limited view of history. Then we need to alert them to the wider world and long term changes."
* wrote of himself, self-deprecatingly, in 2015 in his last appointment as 'Professor of Global History' at Queen Mary, University of London : 'I have spent a great deal of time since 1963 in India, the USA, France, Denmark and the Netherlands discussing, researching and teaching history and am presently working on a book entitled 'Remaking the Modern World. Global comparisons and connections 1900-2015.'

"The purpose of historians and historical training in universities is not necessarily to make everybody into a professional historian or even to 'give them an answer', but just to say "Be careful. You can't make that argument without knowing rather more about the context."

* was paid tribute by Richard Drayton, Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King’s College, in what would be a fitting epitaph :

'A great scholar, a fine human being, a mighty oak has fallen.'