In Search of True Federalism

Canada_3_cents_1917

In Search of True Federalism

A further article by Mark Wegierski to Commemorate the Sesquicentennial of Canadian Confederation

It is sometimes maintained that strengthening the provinces and regions in Canada would lead to a more balanced society. While there is no returning to the Old Canada which existed “before the Sixties”, is it possible that this “New Canada” could reach out to incorporate better aspects of the Old Canada – to create a new synthesis – “Canada Three” – rather than continue on the path of ever-intensifying left-liberalism?

What is Canadian identity? There have been at least two, different Canada’s –  the one that existed before the 1960s, and the one that exists today. Traditional Canada was defined by its founding nations – the English (British) and the French (the latter mostly centered in what, in 1867, became the Province of Quebec). These two nations long pre-existed the creation of a Canadian Confederation, the latter with its distinct provinces and with the powers of the federal and provincial governments clearly delineated. Confederation was a marriage of British Parliamentary traditions with the concept of a federation.

The founding document of the Canadian State was the British North America (BNA) Act, which was approved by the British Parliament in 1867. The Aboriginal peoples were included insofar as traditionally they were considered under the special protection of the Crown.

Most Canadians today (living in what could be called “New Canada” or “Canada Two”) have no understanding of what it was like to live in British Canada. They either reject it out of hand or buy into a completely negative view of what pre-1960s Canada was like. The main architects of “New Canada” were the Liberal Prime Ministers Lester Pearson (1963-1968) and Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1968-1984, except for nine months in 1979-1980). Concerning the latter, some commentators refer to the “Trudeaupia”.

It should be noted, nevertheless, that the term “New Canada” was quirkily deployed by Reform Party leader Preston Manning in his book with this title (Toronto: Macmillan Canada, 1992) as the name for the model of Canada which he himself was proposing – basically, a more decentralized federation – in which provincial and local governments would wield greater authority than the centralized federal government – and long-neglected provinces and regions such as Western Canada would be better represented at the federal level (a huge and overbearing federal government being part of Trudeau’s legacy).

The Western Canadian-based Reform Party (which became a country-wide party in 1991) emerged in 1987 as a centre-right alternative to the federal Progressive Conservatives, who despite their majorities in the federal Parliament won in 1984 and 1988, mostly carried out liberal policies.

Manning presumably chose the term “New Canada” to disguise the real conservatism of the Reform Party platform. He took the idea of “reform in order to preserve” very seriously and sometimes argued positions that seemed “radical” for ends that were conservative.

It should also be noted that during the debate over the proposed Meech Lake Accord (1987-1990) and Charlottetown Agreements (1992) – which explicitly recognized Quebec as “a distinct society” – and might have led to a more decentralized federation –  the prominent liberal commentator Richard Gwyn referred contemptuously to the Canada which the Meech Lake Accord and Charlottetown Agreements would bring into being as “Canada Two”. This is not the sense in which I am using this term. (Neither the Meech Lake Accord nor the Charlottetown Agreements ever became the law of the land.)

Among the leading figures critical of current-day Canada are William D. Gairdner (who has brought out a new edition (Toronto: Key Porter, 2010) of his ground-breaking book, The Trouble with Canada: A Citizen Speaks Out (Toronto: Stoddart, 1990): and Ken McDonald, whose best-known book, probably, is His Pride, Our Fall: Recovering from the Trudeau Revolution (Toronto: Key Porter, 1995).

Contemporary Canada is officially defined as a multicultural society. Canada’s identity is presumed by most observers to be constituted out of the “mosaic” or “kaleidoscope” of various heterogeneous cultures.

Since 1988, after the Canadian Supreme Court struck down some residual restrictions, Canada has no laws whatsoever regulating abortion. “Same-sex marriage” has been deeply entrenched since the federal Parliament approved it in 2005. The move toward “same-sex marriage” got underway in 2003 when two provincial courts struck down the traditional definition of marriage. Multicultural and gender politics orthodoxy is policed by various quasi-judicial tribunals, including the so-called Human Rights Commissions (there is one at the federal level, and one in every province) which can sharply punish speech deemed critical of various minorities and of current-day political arrangements. Their operations have been pointedly described in Ezra Levant’s Shakedown: How Our Government is Undermining Democracy in the Name of Human Rights (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2009).

There are also in Canada today varieties of separatism. The first, the Quebeçois sovereigntists, arose out of the French/English duality of the two founding peoples of Canada. They view the Canadian State with antipathy. A second movement, also emerging since the 1960s, could be called radical Aboriginal separatism. The idea is that since the land was all “stolen” anyway, so the Canadian State has no inherent legitimacy.

Some Canadian institutions, such as the taxpayer-funded CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), tend to view certain groups as “un-Canadian.” The CBC considers those who hold outlooks that are “reactionary” or “mean-spirited” as not part of “the Canadian Way.” Such outlooks are often characterized as American-inspired, hence “un-Canadian.”

The cultural industries in Canada are also mostly government (i.e., taxpayer) subsidized, especially “CanLit” (Canadian literature). Unfortunately, many of these “public” cultural institutions pride themselves on their total exclusion of anything smacking of traditionalism or conservatism.There are, in fact, multifarious techniques to characterise traditional Canada as repugnant. Today, except for certain residues in political institutions, British Canada has been all but annihilated. Nevertheless, Canada still remains in the penumbra of the WASPs, as many of them – whether in corporate or governmental structures – are amongst the most “progressive,” most politically-correct groups in Canada. As such, they enjoy lives of material comfort and cushy sinecures, even as the New Canada conceptually vitiates all that their ancestors held dear.

Obviously, it is impossible to return to the Old Canada. But might there be a chance for a “post-New Canada” or “Canada Three” that moves in the direction of various scenarios of “provincialization”? The contradictions between the current-day centralized big government in Ottawa, to which huge economic resources are perforce committed and the vapid cultural and spiritual hollowness at the core of the administrative “command” apparatus, will likely become ever more apparent.

Prior to the establishment of the European Union, which has made Europe into a  bureaucratic and nightmare state, a better plan was proposed but ultimately rejected. That idea was the “European Community” which was to be a “union of sovereign states”. This idea could serve as a model for a future Canada, a “Canada Three.” It would be a positive synthesis of the best elements of both the traditional and current-day Canada.

The “Canada Three” scenario could be similar to the “Swiss model” or “cantonization” – where most authority is exercised at the local level, without central government interference – and in which there are a variety of populist mechanisms for expressing the will of the people – such as referenda on major issues.

The hope would be that radical decentralization would allow for various arrangements that would make “Canada Three” a stronger and more “rooted” federation or union in its constituent parts. It would also hopefully strengthen intermediary institutions such as churches, and local associations. True federalism would allow for the expression of divergent views that could ultimately have a unifying effect. Such an “uplifting” synthesis of the Old and New Canada is urgently needed in order that Canada becomes the great country that it was meant to be – “the true North, strong and free.”

[An earlier version of this article appeared at fgfbooks.com]

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher. He was born in Toronto of Polish immigrant parents

 

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King of New York

Unknown

King of New York

Thomas O. Meehan deconstructs the Donald

President Trump represents a negative Stupor Mundi to much of the world. Paradoxically, this is not because the American press cannot understand him but because they have so much in common with him.

In fact, Donald J Trump is hardly an American at all. He is a New Yorker. Remember that every ancestor of every New Yorker got off a ship and then decided to remain dockside indefinitely. That is just as much true for Dominican illegals today as it once was for ancient Dutch families.

New York, with its Armenian, Jewish and Arab quarters, is like a city of the Ottoman Empire. Each is a world in itself viewing the polis as a milch cow. New Yorkers don’t make things, they make deals.

As a native New Yorker, Trump strikes many observers as a jarring departure from what they expect of an American President. But this is merely his New York state of mind manifesting itself. Braggadocio is the New York norm. And disregard for consistency or for facts is another salient New York trait.

So why are the members of the American press corps so intent on belittling and destroying President Trump? Because they too are creatures of New York, the global village, driven to succeed in the worlds of networking and communication. They constitute a new diaspora of aggrieved souls alienated from the real America. Trump is a living rebuke to their status as arbiters of taste and thought. And maybe he also reminds them of their parents – doubtless hokeys from Knoke.

THOMAS O MEEHAN is a freelance writer and a former government Senior Research Analyst and Inspector. He lives in Bucks County PA and he blogs at Odysseus On the Rocks   

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Made by Bob

Made By Bob ´Çº Lunch Service-21

Made by Bob

Em Marshall-Luck relishes a treat in Cirencester

Not having visited Cirencester’s centre for many years, I was pleasantly surprise by the clean, smart place it has become, with gleaming pedestrianised areas and the parish church’s stone glowing golden – a far change from the dirty grey I recall. One of the most startling changes has taken place in the once-grotty and run-down Corn Hall, now brimming with fashionable and sophisticated shops – tempting-looking wine shops, boutique clothes shops, and the popular and highly acclaimed delicatessen and restaurant, Made by Bob. With a greyish wooden floor, grey chairs, circular and square wooden tables with metal pedestals, white-painted arched brickwork, and the matching deep blue of the banquettes, feature walls, bar, industrial pendant lamps, window frames and beams, the impression is relaxed but smart; and very trendy. The only artwork that I was able to spot in the packed room was a large poster of a King of Hearts. We were seated at one of the circular tables in a corner on a comfortable banquette, and were served swiftly by members of the staff, all attired in denims with dark blue half-aprons. It is a child-friendly establishment – for once, Tristan wasn’t the only child present; as a stack of wooden high chairs testifies. Throughout the meal, we found the staff affable if not over-friendly, professional and efficient. Drinks and food were brought swiftly and we were unobtrusively checked on several times during our meal, to ensure that all was to our satisfaction. The kitchen is open, just behind the bar, which means that the restaurant occasionally becomes filled with tempting aromas of cooking steaks, a strong whiff of saffron, or the olfactory allure of salmon.

bob-portrait

The other side of the large single room houses more bar-type seating, presumably for those only wishing to enjoy a drink, and the two, clean toilets, featuring the same colour-scheme.

The menu comprises fresh, daily specials – a good range running from marcona almonds, soups and light starters all the way through charcuterie plates and tarts to steaks and fish dishes, and with reasonable price ranges to suit. There is also an excellent bar menu, ranging from wasabi nuts and olives through croquettes and grissini to corn-fed Iberico ham, steak tartare and plates of Italian and Spanish charcuterie, all also at reasonable prices. The drinks list has a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks (Tristan was able to indulge in a mango juice, for instance), as well as coffees, teas, and a short but good selection of wines by the glass and bottle; with special sections also on gins and cocktails.

I just went for a single glass of Domaine de Rimauresque Cru Classe, a rose, that was an appropriately elegant and clean wine to accompany a sophisticated and clean meal. Salmon pink in colour, it has a nose that is surprisingly savoury, with, slightly oddly, a hint of salt, along with more mineral elements. On the palate it was immensely smooth and silky, with a slightly creamy texture, and with plenty of red berry fruits, combining the tartness of redcurrants, with the sweeter tones of strawberries, along with hints of clean herbs and a bite of white pepper at the finish.

My husband declared his orange juice passable (but no more than that, unfortunately). The bottle of still water that was brought displayed fashionably environmentally concerned messages (“Our environmentally positive water is helping reduce your carbon footprint” – presumably this refers to the environmentally-conscientious way in which the water is transported to the restaurant, although I would have been rather more convinced if the bottle displayed some indication as to the point of bottling. We hoped that it is locally sourced, given that there is a limestone aquifer just a few miles away from Cirencester.).

I then started with the burrata with pickled beetroot and lambs lettuce. The burrata was one of the best I have ever tasted: absolutely fresh and gloriously creamy. In a compact sphere, it burst open with unctuous cheese – not too milky, however, as many can be, but maintaining its shape while oozing just very gently. The accompanying elements went extremely well with it, as did the well-judged sprinkle of salt on the top. A perfectly executed dish and one that demonstrates exactly how the simpler dishes can often be the best, when using the very finest of ingredients.

Made By Bob ´Çº Lunch Service-57

Nothing could better that burrata, which I could have eaten for starter, main and dessert – but my tart of cherry tomatoes, spinach and cheddar cheese was also superb. I had thought that there was not much that one could do with a tart to make it particularly excel, but this was undoubtedly a Very Superior Tart: bursting with flavour, from tomatoes that actually tasted of tomatoes; and very salty and characterful cheddar. The texture of the tart was unusually good – absolutely silky smooth, whilst remaining immensely creamy – more a custard than anything else. The accompanying green salad, comprising various different leaves was light and cleansing; dressed with a very light oil dressing: the perfect complement to the outstanding tart.

It was still too early in the day for my husband Rupert to be particularly hungry, so he had just opted for the leek and stilton soup. He pronounced this very flavoursome indeed, with the stilton particularly to the fore, although not overpoweringly so.  The croutons were fresh and their crunchiness complemented the creaminess of the soup very well – altogether, a soup with a definite note of luxury to it. The bread that accompanied the soup was also excellent, with a salted crust which lent an extra dimension to the flavour, and a light and open-textured crumb.  Unsalted President butter added to the air of sophistication.

The sole point of disappointment was the chips (which toddler Tristan had ordered a bowl of) – these were completely unexceptional, with a taste and appearance that indicated mass-produced, rather than made on site, let alone anything special such as hand-cut or triple-fried.

Even after such a light meal, we were sated and unable to manage anything else – except a pot of tea for me. I was pleased to note that this was proper leaf tea; with an elegant flavour and silky texture: excellent.

The fact that the restaurant was packed – with tables being snapped up as soon as they became available for the duration of the meal – certainly indicates that Made by Bob is impressing locals and visitors alike. Personally, I would return like a flash for that burrata any day, and would then like to take the opportunity to explore some of their heartier dishes, in the anticipation of an equally excellent experience.

Em Marshall-Luck is QR’s Food and Wine Critic

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Primrose Day

Benjamin Disraeli, by Cornelius Jabez Hughes

Benjamin Disraeli, by Cornelius Jabez Hughes

Primrose Day

Stephen Michael MacLean, on a date with history

If Theresa May had any historical nous, she would have postponed divulging her polling intentions by one day and announced her plans the following morning, Primrose Day — once a high holiday in Conservative circles.

For April 19th is the anniversary of the death in 1881 of Benjamin Disraeli, the Victorian premier who in many ways wrote the manual for successful Tory leaders. Rumoured to be Disraeli’s favourite flower, a primrose wreath was sent to his funeral by a mourning Queen Victoria. Lord Randolph Churchill — Sir Winston’s father — never one to let an occasion pass him by, coined the phrase Primrose League to take advantage of the deceased leader’s popular appeal. For decades, Conservative party ranks were filled with thousands of loyal members from Primrose Leagues across the United Kingdom.

But Dizzy would have admired Mrs May’s electoral gambit. ‘In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill,’ she explained to the press. ‘The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.’  ‘The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,’ she lamented.

So, the Prime Minister reasons, ‘we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.’ Disraeli, a wily tactician himself, relished thwarting his political adversaries by ‘dishing the Whigs.’

He would have been equally impressed with the Brexit campaign to free England from European oversight. Having once declared that ‘the programme of the Conservative party is to maintain the Constitution of the country,’ Disraeli would be aghast to learn that his successors were content to suffer the EU to meddle with its institutions and to supersede its laws. Brexit was a vote for restoring Britain’s sovereignty –  over domestic legislation, border security, and relations to the wider world.

Disraeli was acutely aware of continental intrigue. For every 21st-century Brussels bureaucrat there was a 19th-century Europhile grandee ready to belittle the patriotic ambitions of average Britons. ‘Influenced in a great degree by the philosophy and the politics of the Continent,’ Disraeli snuffed, trading retort for retort, ‘they endeavoured to substitute cosmopolitan for national principles.’

And he would cheer Theresa May’s agenda to unleash Britain once again, freed of EU constraint, as a diplomatic and trading power-house. Disraeli wore his imperial notoriety lightly, proud of his crafted vision that dwarfed the ‘Little England’ mentality that constrained the island nation to focus its aspirations inward.

As his beloved Tories prepare the writs for a June general election, Disraeli would have probably presented them with some Primrose Day advice ‘which statesmen ought not to forget’ — to wit, ‘Let your plan be founded upon some principle. But that is not enough.  Let it also be a principle that is in harmony with the manners and customs of the people you are attempting to legislate for.’ This is a perfect summation of the Brexit agenda.

Stephen Michael MacLean maintains the weblog The Organic Tory

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Mephisto

Liszt and Wagner

Mephisto

FRANZ LISZT: MUSICIAN, CELEBRITY, SUPERSTAR, by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Stewart Spencer, Yale University Press, 2017. Reviewed by Stoddard Martin

Where is the historian/biographer who can achieve something approaching pure objectivity? Who will try to comprehend how his subject felt in the morning, waking after a troubled dream and walking out in the dew to greet the dawn over an unfamiliar hill? Who will eschew the journalist’s longing for gossip, the ‘inside story’ of some Daily Mail-worthy scandal, and attend to the spirit as much as to the flesh? Who may endeavour to locate what Proust called ‘the intervals of the heart’ and is ready to go ‘under the skin of the other’, as Schopenhauer counselled and Wagner regarded as pivotal to revelation for his ultimate dramatic persona, Parsifal?

One longs for commentary that does not have one eye cocked toward titillation of a contemporary commercial audience. Biography as sister-genre of reality TV might appeal to commissioning editors hopeful of packaging books in more lucrative media; but for those who sit in libraries surrounded by great works of the ages, as Liszt’s daughter Cosima did for more than five decades at Wahnfried, or travel to and fro across Europe whiling away hours with equivalents to the breviaries, libretti and scores that the composer occupied himself with for even longer, a reductio ad mass taste in the provinciality of our present must seem a mortifying comedown. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, 16th April 2017

German Artillery Barrage, Ypres

German Artillery Barrage, Ypres

ENDNOTES, 16th April 2017

In this edition; Holst in the heavens: Vaughan Williams at a lake in the mountains: Richard Strauss and a miraculous sunrise – and French élan from Ibert. Reviewed by Stuart Millson

From the Chandos record label comes a recording that makes an immediate impression, a dynamic and finely-recorded “demonstration” version of Holst’s suite The Planets. Conducting the 150-strong National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, the equally youthful-looking maestro, Edward Gardner, presents Holst’s astrological scenes with a vigour seldom seen in other recordings of this war-horse. Apropos the opening movement, Marsthe bringer of war – Edward Gardner’s reading of this sinister passage is like no other, the Chandos microphones picking up the ticking, tapping drum-taps at the beginning – as if some great machine is coming into view, one of H.G. Wells’s “Land Ironclads”, perhaps. Relentlessly, the young players of the NYO hammer out these chords of war, bringing a new vigour to the Mars movement. Then, they switch effortlessly to the delicate dreamscape of Venus, the bringer of peace. A soothing half-light – strings, high woodwind and a feeling resembling the opening of Debussy’s Trois Nocturnes – arises from the pure, poised and balanced NYO playing, which also achieves great distances and a slightly unsettling disappearance into nothingness in the end-movement, Neptune, the mystic. Continue reading

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The Miller of Mansfield

Miller frontage

The Miller of Mansfield

Em Marshall-Luck enjoys a tempting menu

The Miller of Mansfield is set on Goring’s attractive high street, in a chocolate-box pretty area of the Thames Valley not far from Reading. Visitors should be aware that the inn is a popular one and that, with only a few spaces outside the establishment, parking can be a problem. One walks into the warm and convivial bar area of the pub, with its bare oak floors, open fireplaces with logs blazing away, and – when we visited – Christmas decorations. The welcoming atmosphere is enhanced by the friendly and helpful greeting from the small reception desk to the side of the bar.

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Our suite upstairs was shabby chic with slightly minimalist design; white painted floorboards, walls and furniture were enlivened by vibrant splashes of colours – purple plush velvet chairs and bright pink cushions, while modern minimalist furniture contrasted with replica Gustavian pieces. The large bed aside, the spacious bathroom with large free-standing bath was the most luxurious element of our suite: although it had the benefit of an extra little room with single bed for young Tristan, our large and relatively empty bedroom, open to the eaves, with all its white and bare floorboards felt just slightly cold and lacking in ambience.

There is no lack of warmth or atmosphere downstairs in the restaurant, where we were seated for dinner by a beautiful old fireplace with greyish painted wooden surround – alas, not lit, but with an impressive cast iron fire screen and with pillar candles, one in an ornate lantern, beaming out a welcome light.  The walls are in a honeyed yellow, with just a hint of green; there are pendant lights with tapestried-patterned shades next to the substantial windows (shrouded with translucent blinds after dark), and recessed downlighters further into the room.  Tables are bare wood with simple, A-frame-type chairs having comfortable padded backs and seats in a blue-grey.  The wall art  is rather sparing, as there is not much wall space, but ranges from modern works to a heavily-romanticised view of The Miller of Mansfield (a work that makes no concessions to the rural working conditions that prevailed at the time, the artist obviously having not read – or had chosen to ignore – the contents of the Mayhew Report).

Once seated, we were brought menus and wine lists by the helpful and friendly staff, although we were slightly surprised when, on requesting a pineapple juice for toddler Tristan, he was presented with a pint glass full of said beverage! (Owner Mary threw up her hands in horror when she saw this as she passed our table and immediately demanded that a more suitable vessel was brought.)

The menu brimmed with tempting things to eat – from the nibbles to the five well-chosen starters and mains, with good options for meat eaters, fish lovers and vegetarians alike. A selection of bread was also brought: the white was crunchy on the crust and had just the right amount of resistance in the crumb (successive pieces were commandeered by Young Master Tristan, who is becoming something of a connoisseur of bread); the beef dripping bread was also exceptionally good: much more piquant than the white, as one might expect, and with altogether more substance; sourdough was good; while the walnut and black pepper bread had a real zing to it (and a bite from the pepper) that was most unusual but which worked very well.

Nick BW - kitchen

We asked for a wine recommendation and were brought an Argentinian Malbec; I was pleased and impressed when we were offered the option of having the wine decanted. It was an excellent recommendation – the wine was dark in colour, nose and flavour, with maturity on the nose and the palate; hints of chocolate and lots of ripe bramble fruits – plump, sweet blackberries, damsons and plums, and a bite of spice – black pepper and a hint of chilli  – on the finish. It was also an extremely and delightfully smooth wine, and went very well with the food.

Given that my husband, exhausted after a very long drive, was eschewing a starter, I decided to make up for it by trying both one of the superb sounding nibbles and a starter. The beef croquettes, offered as one of several nibbles, were wonderfully crunchy on the outside with a burst of salt in the crumb and full of gloriously tender and flavoursome meat inside. Served with a moreish garlicy dip, they were perhaps more scrumpets than croquettes but were utterly delicious, whatever the semantics: I would have been more than happy to sit there and eat these all evening long!

My starter of heritage beetroot was extremely impressive indeed: superbly creamy chunks of buffalo mozzarella were interspersed with different types of beetroot – from wedges of golden beetroot through to a gorgeously earthy deep purple puree. The other accompaniments of horseradish cream and an almost cake-like crumb worked exceptionally well, resulting in a dish full of contrasts of flavour, texture and colours; all of which sang together in harmony.

For his main course, my husband chose the roasted local pheasant, which was very good indeed.  The meat was firm, yet yielding, and had an excellent flavour – not ‘over-gamey’; and was well-cooked, being moist and succulent. It was accompanied by celeriac, cabbage, trompette mushrooms, and a pear and pheasant sauce, all of which complemented the meat well. I had, unusually, chosen beef (seared Hereford sirloin steak), which, I’m afraid, wasn’t quite as good as my starter. There was nothing wrong with the cooking, which was first-rate, but I felt that the chef had been slightly let down by his supplier, as the meat rather lacked flavour; although it was, like the pheasant, excellently moist without being greasy, and the Armagnac sauce that accompanied the beef was delicious. Chips tasted as if they had been triple-cooked in beef dripping and were extremely crunchy on the outside (perhaps just a little too so for my taste), while remaining fluffy on the inside. These were served with excellent homemade mayonnaise.

Miller of Mansfield Dining Room

Miller of Mansfield Dining Room

We had also ordered an extra side dish of Cavalo Nero, and this was the most delicious example of its kind I have tasted – it helped that it was studded with toasted hazelnuts and, I suspect, rather drenched in butter. Fabulously tasty.

We asked to take desserts up to our room, and the kind staff ferried these, along with tea, coffee and the rest of our wine, up for us. Mr Marshall-Luck had chosen the Autumn Apple – apple and cinnamon, with an apple sorbet and spun-sugar sticks. This was a beautifully warming dessert, tempered by the crisp sweetness of the sorbet. I, meanwhile, opted for a chocolate mousse, which was rich, sweet and creamy. The tea and coffee was of high quality as well.

Overall, we had been extremely impressed by an excellent meal, in a lovely, elegant but cosy room with a warm and welcoming ambience, and we felt entirely well-looked after. The Miller of Mansfield is most definitely somewhere I can happily recommend for a superb dinner. But be warned – once you have tasted the croquettes you may not ever want to eat anything else!

bar with fire

Em Marshall-Luck is QR’s Food and Wine Critic

 

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Swan Song

Wewelsberg Castle

Wewelsburg Castle, still awaiting the Grail

Swan Song

Parsifal, an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner, Staatsoper Berlin, April 8th, 2017. Director, Dmitri Tcherniakov: conductor, Daniel Barenboim: reviewed by Tony Cooper

As the audience entered the auditorium of the Schiller Theatre (the temporary residence of Staatsoper Berlin, while their house in Unter Den Linden is under restoration) they were confronted by an open curtain and a Gothic-style setting of the Great Hall of Montsalvat Castle, the home of the Knights of the Holy Grail. Built with a traditional German wooden-beamed roof, supported by four heavy-duty stone columns, it mirrored the original set design of the opera’s 1882 première at Bayreuth.

Wolfram von Eschenbach’s 13th-century poem – focusing on the Arthurian hero Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail – is squarely based on Christianity. But the philosophical ideas behind the libretto of Parsifal also draw on Buddhism. Wagner described Parsifal – his farewell to the world – not as an opera, but ‘ein Bühnenweihfestspiel’ (A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage), thereby underlying the deeply-religious overtones of the the work. Continue reading

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Vimy Ridge, 100 Years On

The_Battle_of_Vimy_Ridge

Vimy Ridge, 100 Years On

For Mark Wegierski, history defines us

To many current-day observers, Canada’s participation in the First World War, and the great victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917, may seem far away. The tide of change in Canada has been so massive that the events at Vimy Ridge seemingly occurred in relation to a country which manifestly no longer exists. For Canada has been under something akin to “foreign occupation” as far back as 1963. The “occupiers” are not of course “foreigners” — but Canada’s self-hating, self-alienated elites. Even a person who considers all the resulting changes as positive, would probably concede, that from the mid-1960s forward, a “new regime” has been constructed in Canada which has entailed the eclipse of a more traditional Canada.

Before the 1960s, while the Conservative (or, after 1942, Progressive Conservative) Party rarely held power at the federal level in Canada, the Liberal Party of long-serving Prime Minister Mackenzie King, could be characterized as “centre-traditionalist”, or “traditionalist-centrist”. While the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (the precursor to the New Democratic Party) fought against the obvious inequities of capitalist economics, it was socially conservative, upholding traditional notions of nation, family, and religion. Continue reading

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Rush to Judgement?

Victims of Halabja chemical attack 1988

Victims of the Halabja chemical attack, 1988

Rush to Judgement?

In the wake of the US military strike on Syria, Thomas O Meehan asks some awkward questions

We are currently undertaking military action against Syria to avenge a massacre we know very little about. Our establishments are running with the line that Assad is responsible for a gas attack on a rebel-held area of his own territory. The Neo-con war with anybody axis is coordinating talking points in suspicious unanimity. These are the early days of the Trump administration. It is not out of the question that various interests may be involved in this. The tactic of “Testing” a new president is well established.

Footage purports to show victims of chemical weapons. People on the scene were at pains to describe the victims as suffering from a nerve agent. Men stripped off their clothing and fire-hosed it to remove toxic agents before medical treatment, and were shown on BBC and France 24. Dead children in blankets were exhibited for the cameras. Continue reading

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